Jim's Jerky | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2020
Jim and Cathie Tanner were graziers for over 25 years, running cattle in the Darling Downs farming region of southern Queensland. As cattle farmers, they understood that meat quality was influenced by more than breed, with conditions like animal temperament and stock handling techniques equally contributing to the end product.
When the Tanners decided to diversify, they purchased a wholesale butcher shop on the outskirts of Toowoomba. The former owner produced small quantities of biltong, the dried, cured meat snack that originated in his native South Africa. When Jim and Cathie tasted it, they were surprised — it was nothing like the sugary, highly processed jerky products available in Australia, which were also largely produced overseas.
When Australian beef producers were working so hard to make a quality product, it made no sense to the Tanners that the available beef snack options were exactly the opposite... and so Jim’s Jerky was born.
Education was key in the early days, as this was a relatively niche market in Australia. Unlike the jerkyloving USA or Asia, where fish-based snacks are common, Australian consumers weren’t sure what make of the Jim’s offering... until they tasted it.
Drying meat is not a new innovation, but the Jim’s Jerky approach is. In taking an already excellent raw product, then slicing, spicing and drying it, Jim’s Jerky is well positioned for the growing alternative snack market. Australians are shifting away from three set meals per day to several smaller snack-sized intakes, with increased demand for quality functional snacks that provide nutrition including nuts, popcorn and jerky.
The Tanners wanted to open up the market for people to enjoy red meat in a non-traditional way, without being the same ultra-processed, nitrate-heavy, high-sodium option as the products already on offer. As red meat producers, Jim and Cathie knew they could build off the work done by Meat and Livestock Australia to promote home-grown beef on the world stage. Local product has a reputation for being clean, green and traceable back to both farm and animal, so that same product in a dried snack format came with a degree of success already built in.
Jim and Cathie’s daughter, Emily Pullen, is CEO of Jim’s Jerky. She knows first-hand that working in the business each day makes it difficult to step outside and work on the business. When it came time to solidify the brand’s domestic presence and seek out export opportunities, she turned to TSBE for guidance.
All too often in small business hitting a roadblock means giving up, as the time and energy required to solve problems or work through issues eats in to the day-to-day. Working with TSBE gave Emily the expert guidance and wealth of information she needed, as well as putting her in contact with other producers who have experienced the same issues first-hand, and that’s made all the difference in moving ahead.