Starting a beef jerky business can be a challenging undertaking, given the sheer number of jerky brands globally, with North America alone accounting for over 1,000 brands. The market is fiercely competitive and crowded, making it no easy feat to enter the jerky business.
Our interactions with small jerky makers starting out have revealed that success in the industry requires hard work and dedication beyond just jerky making. In addition to perfecting their jerky recipe, successful jerky makers often work tirelessly to improve and expand their business. Be prepared to put in long days if you’re planning to start a beef jerky business.
Jerky as a Side Business
For those considering selling beef jerky as a side business while working a full-time job, it’s important to keep in mind that balancing both can be challenging. Without proper planning and management, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and risk burning out. Additionally, taking a break from jerky-making and running out of stock could disappoint your loyal customers and prompt them to seek out other options.
If you’re considering selling jerky and want to ensure that your product is USDA compliant, you have two options: either manufacture it yourself in a compliant facility, or hire a copacker to make it for you. With a copacker, you can decide whether you want to be involved in the preparation process or leave it entirely up to them. Ultimately, it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a decision that aligns with your business goals.
The regulations for selling beef jerky can differ significantly depending on the location. To meet minimum standards, you may need to comply with over 100 different rules, which are subject to constant change. The specific regulations can vary from state to state, province to province, and country to country. As such, it is crucial to conduct thorough research in the area where you plan to make and sell your jerky to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations.
Beef jerky makers are subject to government inspections, depending on where the jerky is sold. To ensure the safety and quality of the product, it may need to be submitted to the relevant government agency for inspection and processing. Many jerky bags display a stamp indicating that the product has been inspected by the Department of Agriculture or other regulatory bodies. It’s important for jerky makers to comply with these regulations to ensure their products meet safety and quality standards.
Consider purchasing a used dehydrator to save on costs for your beef jerky business. There are often opportunities to find great deals on dehydrators from companies that have gone out of business, allowing you to potentially pay only a fraction of the original price. Take the time to search through classified ads and au ctions geared towards the food industry to find these deals.
Our nine tray Excalibur dehydrator has been reliable for over ten years to experiment with making jerky. We upgraded to the stainless steel trays and upgraded to the heavy-duty Excalibur dehydrator model. Excalibur sells commercial dehydrators also.
Consider purchasing a used dehydrator to save on costs for your beef jerky business. There are often opportunities to find great deals on dehydrators from companies that have gone out of business, allowing you to potentially pay only a fraction of the original price. Take the time to search through classified ads and auctions geared towards the food industry to find these deals.
For those considering purchasing a food slicer for their beef jerky business, a basic commercial-grade model can typically be found starting at around $500, though the price may vary depending on the size and brand. Those on a budget may consider buying a used slicer, which can often be found at discounted prices through classified ads or auctions.
Purchasing plastic bags for your jerky company can be a cost-effective option when compared to buying labels. Typically, you can buy 2,000 resealable bags for an average of around 5 cents per bag. However, when it comes to buying labels, 2,000 plain colored labels with only the name of the flavor can cost you up to 30 cents per label. If you purchase your bags and labels in larger quantities, you can enjoy considerable discounts.
When starting a jerky business, custom labels can quickly become a significant expense. Label makers typically charge an upfront fee to develop a template, which can range from $5,000 to $10,000 or more. For a business with four flavors, this could result in a label cost of $20,000 or more. However, purchasing resealable bags for your jerky is a more affordable option. On average, 2,000 resealable bags cost about 5 cents each, whereas plain-colored labels with just the flavor name can cost up to 30 cents per label. By buying bags and labels in bulk, you can significantly reduce costs.
Using oxygen absorbers is not a requirement for jerky making, but they can be a valuable addition to your packaging process. When used correctly, they can be a powerful tool for keeping your jerky fresh and extending its shelf life. These absorbers are usually available in bags containing a minimum of 500 units and are relatively inexpensive. However, once you open the bag, it is essential to use the oxygen absorbers within a few days; otherwise, they will be rendered useless if exposed to air for an extended period, even if you seal them tightly.
Cleaning your equipment and workspace is crucial for ensuring the safety and quality of your jerky. Neglecting this aspect of your business could result in serious consequences such as contamination with harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, which could lead to lawsuits and bankruptcy. It’s important to note that the cost of cleaning can be significant, with some meat store owners allocating up to 25% of their budget towards cleaning expenses. Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining a clean and sanitized workspace, as it could ultimately make or break your business.
The distribution of your jerky can be one of the most challenging aspects of starting a new jerky business. While you may have a fantastic product, finding outlets to sell your jerky can be difficult. Trying to convince large chain stores to carry your jerky can be an uphill battle. Many small jerky makers opt to sell their products at Farmer’s Markets, where they can connect directly with customers.
To illustrate, consider the experience of one jerky business owner who had the fourth highest jerky sales in their state. However, the difference in sales between first and fourth place was significant. They explained that in order to make their business profitable, they needed to sell over 3,000 pounds of jerky per month, which can be a daunting task.
Having a website is crucial for any jerky business in today’s world as it allows customers to order your products online, expanding your reach beyond regional markets to national and international ones. Without an online presence, your business may miss out on a significant number of potential customers.
Though it may come at a cost, Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms for jerky makers, and it offers numerous features that can streamline the online ordering process for your customers. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that your website is optimized for search engines using SEO techniques. This will increase your website’s visibility and make it easier for potential customers to find your jerky business online.
For jerky makers, it is crucial to have a presence on social media platforms. This is because social media serves as a powerful tool for free advertising and can help you grow your customer base by reaching out to potential customers. The earlier you start building your social media presence, the better it is for your business.
However, it is important to maintain a clear separation between your personal and professional accounts. It’s recommended to create a separate social media account for your business and keep it professional-looking. This ensures that you don’t mix your personal affairs with your business, and your customers see you as a reputable brand. So, make sure to stay active on social media platforms and engage with your customers to build a loyal following.
www.instagram.com – People just seem to love pictures of food, and jerky is no exception. Instagram has the most user activity of all the jerky centric social media sites.
www.twitter.com – Any business should be on Twitter, not just jerky makers. Twitter gives you a good pulse on the jerky and other industries.
www.facebook.com – It is essential to be on Facebook, currently the world’s largest social media website. Facebook can be very good, but it’s arguably too large.
The most common way of raising funds to start a jerky company is using Kickstarter. Another alternative is Go Fund Me. For example, let’s say you need $15,000. You set an exact target date to achieve $15,000 from any potential backers. You need to reach the entire $15,000 on the date you committed. You get nothing if you miss the deadline and the campaign ends.
Generally, you would make a short video that sells your jerky above the rest. If you succeed in repayment to the financial backers, you could offer some jerky in exchange for compensation later.
JERKY FLAVOR NAME
We are sticklers here at Jerky Ingredients in that the flavor name should match the actual flavor. Many jerky makers in our jerky reviews have lost one taste rating only because the flavor name does match the actual flavor itself, regardless of how good the taste is.
While a pure technicality, this taste rating deduction can be avoided by appropriately naming your jerky flavor. If you name your jerky flavor Hot, then have a reasonable amount of heat. Otherwise, just name the flavor Spicy. If you name your jerky flavor Peppered, have a detectable level of black pepper, a garlic flavor should have a noticeable garlic taste present, etc. Think of it as somebody eating jerky blindfolded and being asked to guess the flavor name.
Here at Jerky Ingredients, we reviewed over 600 unique jerky flavor names, broken down into over 70 jerky flavor categories. Jerky makers are encouraged to add a flavor description for each flavor sold on their jerky maker websites, which is much appreciated, where the flavor description factors into the taste rating.
Submitting jerky for review can be a great way to get free advertising, apart from shipping and the jerky itself. We see submitted jerky as a win-win situation. We get new jerky to review, and the jerky maker gets advertising and exposure, including on social media.
In the last five years, we have seen more and more of these jerky subscription clubs. A customer will sign up and pay a monthly fee for a jerky box, where the jerky brands can vary from month to month. We have noticed that we will favorably review a jerky brand, and a few months later, we will see the jerky brand in one or more of these monthly subscription boxes. Do not underestimate the publicity and possibilities garnered from a professional jerky review.
True, we may not favor the flavor, and rate the taste low, but that is highly unlikely. Most craft jerky makers have good to excellent jerky flavors in this day and age. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details. As usual, we provide jerky makers with a draft copy of each review before they are published. Fair, honest, and thorough are the most common descriptions given to us in our jerky reviews.
THE COURSE – BRING YOUR JERKY TO MARKET
Learn from a jerky maker who made a lost of mistakes and learned from them. The Bring Your Jerky to Market Course has 23 modules that will guide you through starting a beef jerky business from the ground up.
Guiding you through the process of choosing a name, starting a website, & creating a business plan; in making beef jerky, testing for safety, and navigating all government regulations and approvals.
- Module 1 – Choosing the Name of Your Business
- Module 2 – Bag Selection & Layout, Must Have Info
- Module 3 – Declaration of Ingredients (What they don’t tell you until it’s too late)
- Module 4 – Creating Your HACCP Plan & Flow Chart
- Module 5 – Meat Selection & Slicing
- Module 6 – Specifications For Commercial Kitchen
- Module 7 – Making & Processing Your Beef Jerky Safe Temperature
- Module 8 – Purchasing the Best Commercial Dehydrators for Under $500
- Module 9 – How to Get Nutritional Values
- Module 10 – Water Activity Test Kit
- Module 11 – Food Safety Certification
- Module 12 – Copy of Daily Cooking Log Information for the Dept. of Agriculture
- Module 13 – Fat Yankee Business Plan – Distribution Methods
- Module 14 – Getting Started Building Your Brand
- Module 15 – How to Find the Best Festivals
- Module 16 – Marketing Your Jerky Online (How Keith sold 50k in 1 year Online)
- Module 17 – Setting Up Your Website – Shopify 14 Day Free Trial
- Module 18 – Shelf Life
- Module 19 – All Natural Nitrate Curing Like The Big Guys
- Module 20 – Pricing Your Jerky (Important)
- Module 21 – USDA Processing – List of USDA Processors
- Module 22 – Start Making Sales
- Module 23 – Beef Jerky Master Class (FREE Access)
- Bonus – Fundraiser Template & Documents
- Bonus – 1 Hour Consultation With Keith