Australian beef jerky manufacturer Mariani Foods is planning to expand in the UK and continental Europe with the launch of its Legends brand.

Mariani Foods is looking outside Asia-Pacific, where it has leading positions in Australia, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. Talking to just-food at the IFE exhibition in London, Mariani MD Don Nisbet said he believes the under-developed European market for meat snacks presents a good growth opportunity for the firm.

“We see a lot of growth coming through Europe. We see it as a largely untapped market. And potentially, we see beef jerky very segmented here in the UK with traditional clichés about beef jerky quite prevalent,” Nisbet said.

The company plans to develop beef jerky sales by bringing new consumers into the category. “What we are all about is bringing new users to the meat snack, beef jerky category,” Nisbet explains.

The group is targeting women, children and those looking for a “healthy snacking option”, he added. “Innovation such as the new flavours, the technology and the brand positioning are there to overcome the preconceptions that exist.”

“Our products are low in fat and high in protein so against the competitive snacking set – potato chips, nuts, confectionery – it does offer that healthy choice.”

The Legends brand will be available in the UK this summer, when three flavours – original, nice n spicy and Korean BBQ Bulgogi will be launched. Mariani also plans to expand in continental Europe with distribution deals already inked in Germany and Iceland.

As Mariani expands distribution in Europe, the group will “quite possibly” bring European production to the UK, Nisbet revealed. “We set up the supply lines to meet market needs and transfer technology to do it. The product we have here, we manufacture in New Zealand, but we have a whole programme of technology transfer that we are preparing to roll out into other markets, one of which will be the UK.”