The creators of the beloved Tanka Bars are turning to the public for funds to update their digital marketing capabilities and expand distribution to untapped markets. Native American Natural Foods, based on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder.com with the goal of raising more than $1 million.
The Tanka line of buffalo snacks is based on the traditional Lakota recipe, which powered Lakota Sioux warriors for centuries. Tanka Bar, the company's first product, debuted in 2007. It was the first snack bar to combine meat and fruit for the national market.
The product received overwhelming market support with 38 consecutive quarters of growth. “This success attracted many copycats and faux Indian brands, who were quickly bought by major multinational food companies, who invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the category,” said Mark Tilsen, president and co-founder.
The Wefunder campaign is designed to enable Native American Natural Foods to update its digital marketing capabilities and to expand distribution into untapped markets. Wefunder is the country’s largest Regulation Crowdfunding platform.
CEO and co-founder Karlene Hunter (Oglala Sioux) said the company decided to reach out to its long-time supporters to offer them an opportunity to become owners, because traditional capital investors have not historically invested on the reservation. And Native American Natural Foods is no exception.
“Our supporters are the people who have stood behind us, bought our products and believed in our vision for almost 10 years,” she said. “We believe this campaign will also introduce Native American Natural Foods to more like-minded people, who will want to support what we stand for.”
Hunter and Tilsen created the company to help combat obesity and diabetes on the reservation and to provide opportunities for employment and economic development in the Native American community. Additionally, proceeds from the company’s products support the Tanka Fund, which is helping to return buffalo to the land, lives and economies of Indian people.
Tilsen said that while the limited capital has slowed its growth, Tanka is still a high-value brand in the category. “This $1 million is going to help us access new categories of business and update our packaging and branding to be more competitive with what’s happening in the marketplace,” he said.
“The recent announcement that Amazon is buying Whole Foods increases the urgency for our brand because our No. 4 customer is buying our No. 1 customer, and we plan to grow with them in the future.”
Other popular food products by Native American Natural Foods include Tanka Trail, heart-healthy buffalo bites with trail mix, as well as Tanka Sticks, Tanka Bites and Tanka Dogs—all gluten-free, nitrates-free, MSG-free and hormone-free.
For more information about Native American Natural Foods’ crowdfunding campaign, go to https://wefunder.com/tanka.bar.