Data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI shows that meat snacks are a booming business. For the 52 weeks ended Aug. 29, US dried meat snack sales were up 8.5 percent, reaching $1,637 million. Jerky, the most popular format, grew 4.6 percent to $954 million. The category’s remaining products (bars, shreds, sticks, etc.) were up an impressive 14.6 percent. This data does not take into account fresh meat snacks, which are sold refrigerated with other components, such as cheese, hard-boiled eggs and nuts. There’s also a growing range of snacking salads with premium meats and seasoned meat snack packs, as well as heat-and-eat frozen and refrigerated snack packs.

“With the average person eating five snack meals a week, variety and protein are important,” says Shannon Gilreath, director of marketing, Rich Products Corp., St. Simons Island, Georgia.

The market is driven by the increased demand for protein-rich snacks. Meat delivers on protein and also satisfies flavor cravings while being satiating. Portable formats make meat a convenient option for on-the-go consumers. Expect to see an increase in the form and variety of meat snacks in 2020, with many providing added value in terms of better-for-you formulations, such as nitrate/nitrate free, organic, grass-fed and more. Explore this slideshow of recent introductions.

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