Olivia Munn Invests In Jerky Startup Chef’s Cut

Jun 12, 2017

Olivia Munn is celebrating National Jerky Day by announcing she has invested in premium-priced Chef's Cut Real Jerky.

"I'm always on the go, constantly traveling, and spending long days on set," the X-Men Apocalypse and Office Christmas Party star told Fortune in an interview. Chef's Cut is a protein snack that fit perfectly in her day-to-day lifestyle, she explained.

In addition to Munn, Chef's Cut is backed by CAVU Venture Partners, a firm that invests in food, beverage and consumer packaged goods companies, as well as public figures including baseball player David Ortiz and footballers Von Miller and Earl Thomas.

The company is part of the expanding $2.8 billion meat snacks category, which saw a compound annual sales growth of more than 7% over the past four years, according to data provider Nielsen. Chef's Cut is growing even faster than the overall sector—sales quadrupled last year, and the company projects it will book over $100 million in retail sales this year.

But as meat snacks become more popular, the category is growing more competitive. Big Food makers are snapping up startups in order to join the fray: Hershey (hsy) and Slim Jim maker ConAgra (cag) recently acquired Krave and Duke's Meat Snacks, respectively.

When asked about the increased competition, CAVU founder Rohan Oza says he thinks Chef's Cut has an edge regardless of how many brands are on shelves. "We have a superior product to any other on the market," Oza said. He believes the meat snacks trend will continue to see a sharp increase in sales. Younger consumers, in particular, have been raised to look for foods that are high in protein. "They are seeking out better-for-you protein snacks and an upgrade from the lower quality jerky and protein snacks in the market," says Oza.

Oza, a former Coca-Cola (ko) executive, has long touted an investment philosophy that focuses on foods and beverages made with natural ingredients that use savvy marketing techniques to win over customers. Past investments include Vitaminwater and Smartwater, which were both acquired by Coca-Cola, Bai Brands, which sold to Dr Pepper Snapple (dps) for $1.7 billion last year, and condiment maker Sir Kensington's, which was recently acquired by Unilever (ul).

Munn has also established a reputation for investing in winners. The actress was an early investor in ride-hailing startup Uber, and backed Silicon Valley's Bulletproof Coffee. "She's clearly smarter than me because I got two of those [Chef's Cut and Bulletproof] but missed that third one—Uber," says Oza. "I think what's unique about Olivia is she has a knack for spotting winning brands and then she knows how to leverage her platform very well."

For her part, Munn says her approach as an investor is to keep an eye out for products she would use herself and also look to partner with a strong team that can ensure the startup's success. "Disruptive brands—that's what I look for, brands that change how people think about the category and the product," Munn said. With Chef's Cut, Munn says, "It is inspiring to see you can make products that are not only successful and tasty, but are also healthy and helping people live stronger and healthier lives."

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