Beef jerky aisle Flickr User Paul Swansen

Beef jerky sales soar

What’s the hot new beef item for consumers? It’s convenient beef jerky sticks on the go for busy, health-conscious Americans.

Move over potato chips; there’s a new favorite snack in town. It’s delicious, convenient and is packed with protein for a nourishing bite while on the go.

Turns out, beef jerky sales are rising in popularity amongst busy consumers, and when they want to snack, they want something with more staying power than chips and candies.

According to Maura Judkis for The Washington Post, “Chips have long been a favorite snack for Americans, but they may be starting to lose their edge. A recent study from Nielsen has found that sales of meat snacks, like jerky and convenience-packaged dry sausage sticks, has grown, while chip sales have slowed. And if Slim Jims are what comes to mind, think again: New competitors have entered the market, driving growth by emphasizing their wholesome qualities and marketing toward consumers on specialized diets.”

To get a better idea of beef jerky sales in the U.S., here are four fun facts from Judkis’ article:

1. Jerky sales rise as chip sales fall

Judkis writes, “Meat snack sales have increased 3.5% over the last year to $2.8 billion, according to Nielsen, with 7% compound growth over the last four years. Though chips sales are more than twice that amount, the category posted a dollar growth of just 1.7% last year.”

READ: 3 ways the industry could better market beef jerky

2. Jerky ranks second highest in snack category

“American households spend an average of $25.81 on meat snacks every year, which puts them in second place in the salty snacks category, behind the average $35.37 people spend on potato chips,” says Judkis. “Households spend more money on meat snacks than they do on cheese snacks, popcorn or corn chips, though that may be because meat snacks can command higher prices.”

3. Consumer view beef jerky as a nutritious snack alternative

According to the article, “Consumers are snacking more and eating fewer sit down meals, which has led them to look for snacks that pack a nutritional punch. There has also been a dietary trend away from carbohydrates and toward protein, which may lead some consumers to eat fewer chips and more meats, particularly meat snacks.”

4. Consumers are choosing jerky labels that fit their dietary needs

Judkis writes, “Many newer, upscale brands have eschewed the hypermasculine approach that brands like Slim Jim once favored. They’re more likely to highlight the fact that their meat is grass-fed, and their products are gluten-free and Paleo diet friendly. Consumer research firm Mintel found that nearly three-fourths of consumers crave healthier salty snack options, and that 79% want to be able to recognize a snack’s ingredient list, according to trade publication, Convenience Store Decisions.”

It’s exciting to see this growing market emerge, particularly since grocery meat sales have declined by 2.5% in the last year. If consumers want easy, convenient beef on the go, let’s give it to them! What’s your favorite brand of beef jerky? Share your meaty suggestions in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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