The market for meat snacks is hot, with more consumers choosing jerky and proteins over chips and carbs, said Troy Link, CEO of Link Snacks.
"We have been on-trend with all the low-carb, low-fat diets," said Link. "We are definitely a better-for-you snack. We are very fulfilling and when you eat a bag of beef jerky you are full."
Link Snacks is the largest manufacturer of meat snacks worldwide with sales over $1 billion. The company currently operates 11 manufacturing and distribution facilities in four countries and has sales in more than 40 countries. Link Snacks' portfolio of brands includes Jack Link's, Matador, Squatch, World Kitchens, Bifi and Pepperami.
Troy joined the family business in 1988 while still in high school to work with Link Snacks' founder, his father and namesake to the company's leading brand, Jack Link. Troy was named vice president of sales and marketing in 1996 before being named president in 2003 and then CEO in 2013.
Link said the majority of the company's sales are domestic, but jerky is starting to translate to international markets like South America and Asia, as the company cultivates the brand overseas.
"We've got a lot of teaching to do," said Link, about his foreign opportunities. "Eating dried meat in some of those companies is a different dynamic so we have to use our marketing to teach them the benefits of eating better-for-you protein snacks."
Considering the size and market dominance of Jack Link's, it is often mentioned on Wall Street as a smart acquisition for a company such as Pepsi (PEP) , which dominates the supermarket snack aisle with its Frito-Lay brands. Last week, General Mills (GIS) splashed into the category with the purchase of Austin, Texas-based meat snacks maker Epic Provisions. Epic, which has sales around $20 million, will operate as a unit of Annie's, the organic natural food brand General Mills bought in 2014 for $820 million.
Link, however, said he prefers to keep the business private, at least for the time being.
"Maybe that day will come when we need to change course, but today we are very proud to be family owned and privately held," said Link.