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Jack Link's purchases snack business, launches higher-end jerky brand

ck Link's has purchased the meat snack business of Grass Run Farms, a deal coming soon after Link's introduction of a new jerky brand call Lorissa's Kitchen.

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ck Link’s has purchased the meat snack business of Grass Run Farms, a deal coming soon after Link’s introduction of a new jerky brand call Lorissa’s Kitchen.

Both moves are aimed at broadening Jack Link’s reach into more higher-end jerky markets.

Minong-based Jack Link’s this week bought Grass Run Farms’ snack line from meat giant JBS for an undisclosed price. Grass Run Farms gets its beef from a network of Midwestern farms that specializes in raising grass-fed cattle.

Grass Run’s snack business includes jerky, beef sticks and summer sausage, all produced from cattle raised without antibiotics and added growth hormones. Grass Run, known for producing high-end beef, was founded by husband-and-wife Iowa farmers who sold to JBS last year.

Link’s will buy beef from Grass Run, and produce the snacks at its own plants. “This is a supply chain move,” said Troy Link, Jack Link’s CEO, noting that grass-fed beef is a limited resource in the U.S.

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Jack Link’s is the nation’s leading beef snack company, its jerky products ubiquitous in convenience stores and other retailers.

Grass Run snacks “are more of a specialty product,” Link said. They’re sold online at Amazon and at gourmet food retailers and higher-end supermarkets.

Link’s this year also has launched Lorissa’s Kitchen, a line of jerky with such flavors as Korean BBQ beef and Ginger Teriyaki chicken. Lorissa’s Kitchen products also are marketed as health plays -- no preservatives, no growth hormones.

Lorissa’s Kitchen is available at Target, Walgreens and 7-11, and should be in Wal-Mart shortly, Link said. “Lorissa’s Kitchen you will see in convenience stores and will be much more mass-marketed (than Grass Run).”

Privately held Link’s, which does more than $1 billion in annual sales, was a pioneer in bringing jerky products to the mass market. Meat snack sales are booming, as they fit well into key consumer trends: snacking and high-protein foods.

“The category is growing fast and we need to develop new brands,” Link said.

Jack Link’s marketing and sales office is in the North Loop of Minneapolis, employing about 150 people. Later this year, the company plans to move to Mayo Clinic Square, formerly known as Block E, where it expects to double its Minneapolis employee count.

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