As we reflect on the past five years since the founding of EPIC, we are both proud of the progress we've made with an eye always toward the future. We are excited to continue our mission of improving the animal supply chain while providing transparency of our suppliers' practices whenever possible. We’re early on this journey, and there is so much to come!
EPIC co-founders, Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest, started the company to create something new to serve their own needs. After a vegan diet led to health complications, they switched to a Paleo-based diet based on the recommendations of a holistic doctor. To fuel their intense exercise regimen, they started making portable meat snacks and jerky in their home kitchen. Before long, they were bootstrapping their new meat bar company that became EPIC Provisions. Later, they raised small amounts of capital before being acquired by General Mills. They still remain actively involved in EPIC’s business.
Northstar Bison, one of our key suppliers
Taylor and Katie were the first to bring to market a 100% grass-fed meat, fruit, and nut bar. At the time, no one in the meat bar industry was sourcing solely from 100% grass-fed animals. This was an important founding principle for Taylor and Katie, who are strong believers that healthy, humanely raised animals are the basis for human and environmental health. As reborn omnivores, they prioritized the consumption of grass-fed and pastured meat and were excited to bring a product to market that reflected these values.
As business grew, demand outgrew the current 100% grass-fed bison supply, so EPIC began using natural bison (which are raised on pasture and finished on grain) to meet demand. However, we continue to prioritize the usage of as much grass-fed bison as possible and are thrilled that the supply chain has grown over the past few years. This means more animals being raised in their natural environment with a positive impact on the land. Even as the EPIC business has grown since introducing natural bison to meet demand, the percentage of grass-fed bison that makes up our products has increased.
At EPIC, we are a proud pioneer of the Whole Animal Project, which aims to use as many different cuts and materials from each animal as possible as well as to one day be able to indeed purchase the whole carcass. This is our response to the Whole Animal and Snout-to-Tail movements that have been gaining popularity over the last decade. For EPIC, this means purchasing tallow, liver, and bones from the same animals whose meat is purchased for meat bar and jerky products. Innovative products that have been developed as a result of this commitment are our 100% grass-fed beef & beef liver bites, traditional jerky, pork skins, bone broths, and rendered animal fats.
Across all bison suppliers, EPIC purchases a combination of all the meat on a carcass, as well as bones and fat. “Every agreement is mutually beneficial, or it wouldn’t exist in the first place,” says EPIC COO/CFO Robby Sansom. “Therefore, we have numerous arrangements with suppliers—each of which are unique to the parties involved and what works best for everyone. This flexible and collaborative approach to working with our ranching partners, where we find creative ways to support the needs of each unique operation, is just one way of the many approaches we help support local communities as well as ranches in their transition to agriculture practices for the betterment of the land and the animals raised on it.”
We have been committed to providing the highest quality meat products available from day one. As our founders learned more about ranching and animal welfare, Katie and Taylor became increasingly aware of the importance of grassland regeneration. They partnered with the Savory Institute, an organization dedicated to global grassland restoration, early on to support their network of holistic producers committed to regenerative agriculture.
EPIC co-founder Katie (right) helping take soil measurements
"EPIC Provisions has been a vital partner of Savory, supporting the work of livestock producers who are managing holistically to heal land, improve livelihoods, and produce nutrient-rich food," said Daniela Ibarra-Howell, CEO and co-founder of the Savory Institute. "Taylor and Katie have worked tirelessly and passionately with our community, putting real skin in the game to learn and share the positive impact of Holistic Management on the planet. They are tip-of-the-spear creating change in agriculture, sourcing regenerative raw materials for EPIC, and have shown great dedication to the cause for years through their investment in programs such as Land to Market."
The Savory Institute Land to Market program verifies products that come from suppliers who are managing their land regeneratively. EPIC’s beef bites are the first-ever product to be certified with the Land to Market seal. White Oak Pastures, a key supplier and partner, is providing the regeneratively raised beef to go into this product.
“EPIC has been a good and reliable customer and partner for our farm,” says Will Harris from White Oak Pastures. “We have worked together to find ways to incorporate our proteins into their growing product lines. EPIC helps me extract from the marketplace the additional value that I put into my product. This allows me to continue with regenerative, humane, and fair practices.”
Will Harris of White Oak Pastures looking over his field with EPIC co-founder Taylor
Our values, mission, and partnerships have remained priorities as we’ve joined the General Mills family. “Through [Taylor and Katie], I have gotten to know the General Mills Sustainability Team,” Will continues. “We are working together to have a life cycle analysis done on my farm, and the preliminary results are compelling.” Projects like this wouldn’t have been possible so soon without the support of General Mills, who is ramping up investment into sustainable and regenerative initiatives.
Finally, EPIC continues to offer a unique transparency that we feel is key to conscious meat consumption. Our Honesty Pledge, an actively updated page on their website, reveals details of their supply chain to anyone who wishes to know more about what they’re eating. Conscious consumers can read through each of the ten animals that go into EPIC products to learn how the company is currently sourcing the meat as well as their future goals.
We are proud of the progress made over the past five years and also realize there’s more work to be done. Thank you for your support in your efforts to improve animal supply chains, grassland regeneration, and transparency within the food industry.