Vegan meat company Upton’s Naturals launched a new range of plant-based jerky earlier this year, adding to its growing family of vegan-friendly meat products and ready meals.
The brand, which launched in 2006 in Chicago, announced the new products at the Natural Products Expo West earlier in March. The new range will come in four different flavors — Smoky Original, Tarragon Ginger Lime, Tamarind Pepperoni, and Pineapple Pink Peppercorn.
Dan Staackmann, Upton’s Naturals’ founder said in a press release “We’re excited to put a spin on this classic snack.”
He added, “[made] with high-quality, simple ingredients and unique marinades worth writing home about, these Jerky Bites are designed to appeal to both vegan and mainstream consumers alike.”
Consumers will be pleased to know the company is sticking to its commitment to using only natural ingredients, as the snacks are free of “GMOs, soy, trans fat and cholesterol and are low in fat and carbs.” The snack, made from wheat protein, also contains a third of the calories compared to their meaty counterparts.
Who are Upton’s Naturals?
Upton’s Naturals made a name for themselves with flavored seitan products, which can be used in meals like curries and fake-away dishes.
Originally Staackman marketed his products directly to restaurants. He eventually approached Whole Foods, which initially allowed him to stock in seven stores. This quickly expanded to all of their stores (about 40 at the time, according to Yahoo Small Business) as the retailer recognized the products’ popularity.
The brand found success in the UK in 2015 with its marinaded jackfruit range, just as veganism was taking off as a mainstream choice amongst the British public.
Although it is now well-known for its quality vegan-friendly products when Upton’s first started out, the company shied away from labeling them as such. Staackman told Rewire “[we] used to label the package ‘vegetarian/vegan’ because we were afraid that not many people knew what the word ‘vegan’ meant.”
He credits films such as documentary “Forks Over Knives” for raising awareness around veganism and celebrates the recent explosion of vegan options.
He said “there weren’t that many restaurants that were vegetarian, let alone vegan. Now, I’d say there are at least 15 vegan restaurants, maybe more [in Chicago]. You can go to almost any restaurant and they have a vegan option—even Chipotle.”
Upton’s vegan jerky will be available later this Spring across the U.S. for $4.99 a packet.