Legana-based business KOOEE Snacks has launched a beef snack stick into all Australian CostCo stores.
The meat snack business had humble beginnings at Launceston's Harvest Market before taking on retail giants such as Woolworths, Coles and Dan Murphy's, and now CostCo.
Born and bred in Launceston, director and co-founder Andy Fist remembers his intense nerves before his first Harvest Market leading to a restless nights sleep.
The Harvest Market proved to be an invaluable experience in the development of the small business, now that Kooee has sold a literal truckload of food to CostCo, with a more expansive product range and exclusive collaborations in the works.
The first CostCo order was 20 full pallets and required more than eight tonnes of organic beef to manufacture.
"That single product going into CostCo has doubled the size of our business, but more importantly it's the start of a relationship with Costco," Mr Fist said.
After starting his career in Sydney, Mr Fist ending up working in New York with Tough Mudder in its infancy.
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It was this experience with Tough Mudder as a start-up that inspired Mr Fist to move back to his home town and develop his own small business.
"It was interesting to see how businesses go behind the scenes. Because I always thought you had to be genius to start your own business," Mr Fist said.
"Once you've worked in one of these businesses, you realise a lot of mistakes are being made. And perhaps you can afford to make a few mistakes as long as you get the big things right. So for the first time, that gave me confidence to start my own business." Mr Fist believes that a large part of KOOEE's success is its gender-neutral marketing strategy and commitment to health and simple ingredients.
"We market it in quite a different way. So traditionally, meat snacks are marketed in quite a masculine way. So they're seen as a very blokey snack, and it's often a blue-collar appeal. And that's a big market in jerky," Mr Fist said.
"But we think they're another group of customers that are really into high protein foods, they want something healthy and they don't want it marketed in that way."
Mr Fist sees CostCo as one of Australia's most important retailers and also a pathway to an international market.
"CostCo has many stores in the region, and success in their Australian stores may lead to significant export sales, which ultimately is our goal," Mr Fist said.
This is the first time we have ever sold a literal truckload of food. We still have a long way to go, but it's nice to celebrate these milestones as they occur."
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