North-East beef snack proves a hit

Jul 24 2008 by Jane Hall, The Journal

Brian Bradley, director of Mr BBQ, left and Mike Botha with some vegetarian beef jerky made with Mike's mushrooms.









A HEALTHY snack associated with Wild West cowboys and now produced in Northumberland, is proving a hit with British troops in the modern day frontier towns of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sales of beef jerky produced by Felton-based Mr BBQ have soared in recent months thanks to squaddies on peace-keeping duties in the two war-torn nations who have become hooked on the nutritious strips of dried, preserved meat.

These overseas sales now account for 6% of Mr BBQ’s business, so popular is the low fat, protein rich snack with our 12,000 servicemen and women currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Internet sales of £100-plus from military personnel for Mr BBQ’s range of seven British Beef Jerky flavours are now a regular occurrence.

But orders aren’t just flooding in on the computer. Sales to relatives of troops serving on the frontline have also shot up, with many travelling hundreds of miles to Mr BBQ’s headquarters at Eshottheugh just off the A1 to obtain morale-boosting supplies.

Brian Bradley, director of Mr BBQ, said: “We already rank number one in the world on Google and Yahoo if you are searching for beef jerky, and we get enquiries from all over the globe, especially America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

“But it is British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan who are proving to be among our biggest customers at the moment. They just can’t seem to get enough of our beef jerky.

“It seems that fresh fruit and beef jerky are the two most prized possessions for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Beef jerky is an integral part of American troops’ ration packs. It is they who have introduced their British colleagues to the delicacy.

There are many reasons why it has caught on. It has a long shelf life and boasts a protein content of up to 70%, making it a healthy replacement for empty-calorie snacks like sweets and crisps. Made from the topside of best Northumbrian beef, Mr BBQ’s jerky is sold in sealed plastic bags which means it doesn’t have to be kept in a fridge to stay fresh.

Additionally, the strips are light to carry, can easily be stored in a pocket or backpack and can be eaten on the move.

Mr Bradley explained: “When you first put a piece of beef jerky into your mouth it will feel dry, but when you begin chewing it will soon rehydrate, to take on the feel of eating regular beef.

“We have found at the shows we attend that it is of great interest to people on high protein diets and they cannot get enough of it.”

The wider public can find out what the appeal is for themselves on August 30 as Mr BBQ is one of the many producers who will be attending The Journal Taste 2 food and drink festival in association with Tesco, being held in the picturesque surroundings of the Linden Hall Hotel, near Morpeth.

Since launching Mr BBQ four-and-a-half years ago, Mr Bradley has supplied to a British expedition heading for the Andes, and can count rugby players, body builders, pop stars and actors, among its fans.

But it is the support from our British troops that has most pleased Mr Bradley, who gives a military discount on orders.

“It is an ever growing business for us. Only last week we had a marine on leave who drove all the way up here from the south just so he could buy our beef jerky.”

From soldiers

Emails from the frontline:
"This transaction is going out to myself and the guys out in Afghanistan. We're having dramas getting hold of beef jerky after the Americans got us all hooked. I suspect there may be some repeat orders if the guys like it" - WO2 Gilmore

"I am currently serving in Afghanistan at the moment and living off Army rations which are OK for a couple of weeks but not good for six months. I am a big fan of jerky and am missing your biltong so much. I thought that I and my 10 colleagues who are stuck out in a Forward Operating Base with no showers or fresh food would greatly appreciate anything that you could spare as morale at the moment has hit an all time low and jerky is a great source of protein. "Your help in this matter will most definitely boost our spirits as every little helps whilst stuck out here." - Sgt Scholz

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