Primal Cuts Brings Biltong to American Taste Buds

7 June 2024 By Aileen Mack

Associate Editor Aileen Mack joined Dockwalk in July 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. If she’s not at a concert or coffee shop, she is lost in a book, movie or a YouTube rabbit hole. Email Aileen at

During the Covid quarantine, former chief officer Zan Lang decided to build a biltong box, which ended up being six feet long and worked like a charm. This got him thinking about turning this lockdown experiment into a business. While there are a few brands making biltong in the US, none quite nailed the quality and authenticity he and his wife Haley, a former chief stew, were after. So they decided to fill the gap themselves with their company Primal Cuts.

In 2021, they started working on branding, research and testing recipes while Zan was still working on board. But it wasn’t until he moved to the US full time in June 2023 that he started producing biltong with an industrial dryer imported from South Africa. The original recipe contained Worcestershire sauce; while a common ingredient in South African biltong, it’s also high in sodium, sugar and contains anchovies and soy, which adds allergens. So finding a healthier alternative was important to them, and they streamlined the recipe to include only a few essential ingredients, without sacrificing flavor.

“We’ve both had a lifelong passion for health and fitness, so our intention with Primal Cuts was always to provide a wholesome protein snack. In South Africa, biltong is a staple and is passed down from one generation to the next,” Zan says. “With Primal Cuts, our hope is to take South Africa’s age-old snack and make it healthier, appealing to a generation attuned to the benefits of mindful eating.”

The traditional South African dried meat delicacy is made from lean meat that is marinated, seasoned and air-dried to perfection. While jerky usually uses thinner slices of beef dried quickly at high heat, biltong is made from large cuts of whole muscle beef and air-dried over a longer period at a low heat.

“Now, we’re focusing on reaching more than just South Africans in the yachting scene, but also introducing the American market to the benefits of biltong,” he shares. Offered in original and Peri-Peri, their biltong is high in protein (16 grams per serving), plus it's free of gluten, sugar, soy, additives and preservatives.

They also want to create a positive impact, so there’s an option to donate on the checkout page to two charities that are close to their hearts — The Ncinci Ones Montessori School program in Coffee Bay, South Africa, where donations go directly to feeding and putting students through school, and the Cancer Association of South Africa, an organization at the forefront of cancer research that advocates for patients and their families.

Primal Cuts offers subscriptions so chefs and chief stews can customize packages to suit their boat’s needs, and they also work with provisioners to get their biltong delivered worldwide. Zan is experimenting with new recipes to eventually offer four flavors.


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