An article of the growing popularity of jerky was recently published in the Washington Post. Jerky combined with similar dried meat products are on course to surpass potato chips as the number one snack in America. Potato chips easily outsell jerky, but beef, pork, poultry, etc. are not getting cheaper in price. With jerky already as the second most popular snack food in America, it is not inconceivable that jerky will eventually become the number one snack food in America.
The jerky industry has changed greatly since 2008. Commonplace in 2008 was ‘standard fare’ jerky, loaded with ingredients such as nitrites, MSG, fillers, artificial flavors, and other untoward similar ingredients. Some of the worst imaginable ‘chopped and formed’, or ‘chunked and formed’ textures gave jerky an undeserved bad reputation.
Soon afterwards came a jerky boon, where a new wave of jerky makers started opening up worldwide. The focus shifted to health, with a slew of new craft jerky makers. The shift from carbohydrates to protein continues to grow, or as some would call paleo. Hip now is small batch, handmade, and artisan jerky.
According to the article, 79% of consumers want to recognize the ingredient list. Having reviewed near 600 jerky ingredients to date, the jerky scene is vastly improved compared to 2008. More and more jerky makers have ingredient lists without hard to pronounce ingredients.
People are starting to care now if the meat used is hormone free. Ideally, animals should have at least some free range access to roam about, as the way nature intended. The niche jerky market of using 100% grass-fed beef continues to grow, with the large Beef Jerky Outlet chain being one of the latest jerky makers.
The big ‘standard fare’ jerky makers took notice of this health wave, and have continually adjusted their ingredient lists accordingly. Gone are the days of barely edible dollar store type of jerky, or jerky loaded with so much sodium nitrite that the strips were neon pink. There is still room for improvement, but this is a step in the right direction for the jerky industry as a whole.
As mentioned in the Washington Post article, “Meat snack sales have increased 3.5 percent over the last year to $2.8 billion, according to Nielsen, with 7 percent compound growth over the last four years”. By coincidence, the fine folks at www.jerkyup.com who cover anything jerky related and us launched our respective jerky centric web sites four years ago in January 2014.
Fierce as the jerky competition is, there seems plenty of jerky to go around. Seemingly the majority of jerky makers that we review report a year over year increase in their sales. The most visited page here is starting a jerky business. Expect more great things to come in the jerky industry, as annual sales eventually climbs over $3 billion. Jerky UP!