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Domenick Celentano

Food Additive or Food Ingredient - Perky Jerky is no longer Perky!

By August 12, 2011

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Caffeine Infused Foods

Jessica Bruder had a post Has Perky Jerky Lost its Perk in the New York Times. It intrigued me since Caffeine Infused Foods seem to be following the wave of energy shot drinks like 5 Hour Energy. So what is a Perky Jerky?

Perky Jerky is a brand of caffeine infused beef jerky.

The caffeine is from Guarana, that comes from the Amazon rain forest and has 2x the caffeine as coffee beans. They did not do their research and recPerky Jerky Jerkmaneived a USDA cease and desist order, Why? Perky Jerky was using Guarana as an ingredient when it is only approved as an additive. Guarana is authorized by the FDA as a food additive for flavoring, meaning it is used in small quantities. Ingredients have no quantitative limitation and supposedly USDA says it is needed in quantities larger than prescribed in the FDA regulations for food additives... the amounts necessary to produce a caffeinated boost. They now have to develop a new product launch campaign with a new product positioning potentially as a healthy snack.

I recently worked with a client seeking to enter this segment and we found that the energy drink/shot category (where they currently would be slotted) is far bigger than the category encompassing energy bars, sports nutrition, etc.

Changing to a new Food & Beverage Category

Perky Jerky, no longer being a caffeine infused food, could develop brand positioning in the Healthy Snack Category or Nutrition Energy Bars Category. These categories are driven by the growth in obesity and consumer seeking healthier snacking options. I am not sure if consumers see this as a fit in either.

From the picture it appears they are positioning to Millenials and "extreme sports" enthusiasts? Do they know their customer segments? Maybe not.

They entered a hyper growth segment of energy shots so they were the right product at the right place at the right time. They will have much more competition in protein snacks and therefore have less differentiation.

Yes they can reposition their product and need to think about the categories whey they fit before they go out and start making new retail buyer pitches. If they jump before they look, that could be the end of the brand since the consumer packaged goods market is competitive and mistakes costly.

Food and Beverage Claims - Tip for Food Entrepreneurs

When products make claims in any form, you should first go through the exercise of Learning the difference between Food Additives and Food Ingredients. I developed 4 Steps to avoiding FDA and USDA regulatory headaches andfines to help you avoid a calamity as happened to Perky Jerky.


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