Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Hershey’s Jerky Kiss-off

First, a couple of bits of disclosure:

      • Other than a small, spit-it-out nibble of a Slim Jim (which may, in fact, have occurred in a dream), I’ve never actually eaten any beef jerky.
      • I believe that the Hershey’s Kiss is a near-perfect piece of candy. It’s chocolate, it’s tasty, and it’s charmingly packaged.

Which is to say that I don’t know nuthin’ about jerky, but I don’t like what I don’t know.Isn’t jerky just dried up, skinnied down Spam? And, while I like most chocolate in general, the Hershey’s Kiss is on my short list of favorites, even though I recognize that it is not high-quality, worth-every-calorie chocolate in any way, shape or cutie-cute form. I just like popping a Kiss into my mouth once in a while. So I was a bit weirded out to read that a) Hershey’s may be in trouble; and b) that they may be relying on jerky to get them out of trouble.

Chocolate, it seems, is falling out of favor. Worse for Hershey’s, premium chocolate is eating into the market for old standbys, which are seen as less healthy. I am contributing to this trend. While I do love me a Hershey’s Kiss, I’d rather have a piece of something like Lindt. To me this is not so much about making a healthy choice – actually it has nothing to do with making a healthy choice – it’s just that Lindt tastes better. But health concerns are what’s driving some of the dip in chocolate.

With sugar widely branded a health boogeyman and Americans cutting back on sweets in favor of Greek yogurt and protein bars, Hershey saw sales fall in 2015 for first time in more than a decade. To help turn the tide, the company is betting on the growing appetite for dried meat.(Source: Bloomberg)

I like protein as much as the next guy. And while I probably could be a vegetarian, I do like meat. But getting my protein from dried meat? Not exactly a lip-smacking YUM.

“If it says protein on it, consumers will buy it,” said Carl Jorgensen, a director of wellness strategy at Daymon Worldwide, a retail-marketing firm in Stamford, Connecticut. “This is something Hershey has to do.”

Once again, I prove to not be every consumer. Just “saying protein” has yet to nudge anything off the shelf and into my shopping cart. Peanut butter need not say anything, protein-wise. And once again, it’s those millennials who have nudged us boomers onto the consumer shelf. Nobody cares what we’re munching on. Oh, “they” – the marketers – like us well enough when it comes to Centrum, Viagra, and Poise, but they apparently could care less about our edibles.

Americans, especially millennials, are snacking more than ever, noshing throughout the day rather than sitting down for three square meals. Hershey wants to ride that trend.

Hershey’s is jumping into snack world, with goodies that include snack bars made with acai – the kale of the berry world, “and jalapeno almonds and pumpkin seeds coated in protein.” The company is looking to build a $2B snack business, with one-quarter coming for meat products, including jerky.

Hershey didn’t build its growing jerky empire organically. In 2015, they acquired “Krave Pure Foods, a maker of premium beef jerky.”

Just the idea that there’s something called premium beef jerky out there... Sold at Whole Foods, yet, where it has failed to say protein to me. Maybe I skipped the jerky aisle. Then again, I’m not a millennial, so Krave may just keep mum as I stroll by.

Without me, Hershey has managed to double Krave sales, and they’re going to be expanding the product line with meat bars. (Is it just me, or does “meat bar” sound even less appetizing than “jerky?”)

Alas, “it’s not clear whether snacking can save Hershey.”

Not being able to save Hershey? Oh, I’m sure someone would pick it up for the brand name alone. Still, the thought of no Hershey’s…

I wouldn’t miss Hershey’s chocolate bars. I might miss Hershey’s Reese’s PB Cups, as they do combine those two personal favorites: peanut butter and chocolate. But I would definitely miss Hershey’s Kisses.

A kiss is just a kiss and all that, but sometimes you just need to peel that foil off and snack on something unhealthy for the body but good for the soul. Accept no substitutes. And even if it’s not an over-processed salt lick, and is something worthy of shelf space at Whole Foods – where, by the way, you can’t get buy a Hershey’s Kiss, thank you – jerky is no substitutes.

1 comment:

Frederick Wright said...

My first thought upon reading this was that Hershey's might be reacting to the forecast of a radically changing chocolate market, as climate change renders current production areas unusable. Low margin, low quality chocolate makers like Hershey's are going to be affected.