When we first profiled The New Primal founder and CEO Jason Burke in 2018, his brand was just over five years old and known for its grass-fed, pasture-raised jerky snacks and better-for-you marinades. Since then, the company has expanded into a range of adjacent categories, including seasonings, dressings and condiments and established itself as a platform brand for low sugar products made with responsibly sourced ingredients.
That evolution caught the attention of Vail-based private equity firm Manna Tree, which describes itself as “committed to improving human health through nutrition,” and led The New Primal’s $15 million Series B round in 2021. The investment has helped the company expand distribution, launch new innovation and build out its sales and marketing teams.
While The New Primal has a solid foundation on which to build, Burke’s vision of disrupting what he views as “a broken, toxic food system,” is faced with contemporary pressures of inflation and rising costs while simultaneously challenged by expectations for fast growth and profitability.
In an interview recorded during Manna Tree’s second annual Global Health Forum, Burke discussed the demands of building a modern food brand in the context of evolving consumer needs, why he advises founders to embrace reliable business practices and a cautious retail strategy and how high-profile exits have created unrealistic expectations for founders. He also stressed the importance of due diligence on potential investors and shared a moving story about his motivation to provide consumers with better food options.
In this Episode
|0:45: Jason Burke, Founder & CEO, The New Primal – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif met with Burke at Manna Tree HQ in Vail, Colorado where the entrepreneur spoke about the origins of The New Primal; the brand’s focus on real ingredients, low sugar and great taste; how packaging drives trial and why new entrepreneurs should be cautious about broad distribution. He also opined about the detrimental effects of slotting fees on emerging brands, why sound business fundamentals draw the attention of investors and how “the goalposts” have shifted when it comes to large CPG exits. Later, he discussed why the traditional system for building a food brand makes it unrealistic for companies to achieve profitability at an early stage, how founders can cement their role as company leaders and how the passing of his mother reinforced his desire to improve the quality of packaged food.