US market eating up non-traditional jerky

by Bob Sims
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Krave Jerky, Hershey
The Krave brand of jerky snacks features uniquely flavored meat snacks.
 

ROCKVILLE, Md. – Market intelligence publisher, Packaged Facts, recently released a new report titled “Healthy-Ingredient Snacks in the US, 2nd Edition.” Packaged Facts asserts that meat snacks (jerky, meat sticks, etc.) have continuously gained favor with the ever-growing snacking community. Meat snacks have carved out their niche among snackers trying to avoid gluten, wheat and anything to do with breads and carbs.

The new fascination with meat snacks has also created a new direction in the meat snacking psyche. Consumers have begun to seek out meat snacks made from a variety of different meats that are labeled as exotic. For example, bison, kangaroo and salmon have all seen success in the world of artisanal jerky. This shift in taste has affected some traditional jerky companies.

The largest meat snack producer in the United States, Minong, Wisconsin-based Jack Link’s, has seen dollar sales over the past year down 7 percent and volume sales down 15 percent. Packaged Facts says that Jack Link’s represents a company that produces the classic style of beef jerky. The report goes on to say that the dip in sales and volume are a result of the US consumer losing interest in traditional jerky and meat snack products.

Jack Link’s financial figures pale in comparison to the “new wave of healthier-for-you meat snacks” that is being marketed, specifically to millennials, featuring exotic ingredients, according to Packaged Facts. The Krave brand of meat snacks ranks in the top eight in dollar sales in the past year. The company was up 71 percent in sales with volume sales up 84 percent. Kent, Washington-based Oberto has seen strong growth in the dollar sales of its Oberto Sausage after introducing its All Natural Oberto Jerky brand. Lower unit sales and volume sales reflect the company has positioned this as a premium brand with higher prices, suggests Packaged Facts.
 
However, the market intelligence firm does report that Jack Link’s and other private label meat snack producers are the only companies struggling in the category. ConAgra has seen good growth in sale of Slim Jim meat snacks in the period, although Packaged Facts says that half of this growth came by way of price increases. Sweet Baby Ray’s jerkies, a combination of Bridgford Foods’ jerkies and Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce saw a 37 percent increase in sales over the last year.
 
While companies like Krave, Bridgford Foods and other jerky producers serving the market of uniquely flavored jerkies have gotten a head start on Jack Link’s, the recent introduction of its Small Batch and Lorissa’s Kitchen brands show the company’s understanding and effort to catch up on this market.
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