Beef Jerky Sales on the Rise as Consumers Search for Healthier Snacks

Beef jerky sales grew by nearly seven percent last year, according to Nielsen. Meat snacks are second only to potato chips in the salty snack category, but potato chips posted only 1.7 percent dollar growth over the same time period.

CENTENNIAL, Colo., June 12, 2017 (PRNewswire) — Given the remarkable sales resurgence of beef jerky, it makes sense that the meat snack has its own holiday: June 12 is National Jerky Day.

Beef jerky sales grew by nearly seven percent last year, according to Nielsen. Meat snacks are second only to potato chips in the salty snack category, but potato chips posted only 1.7 percent dollar growth over the same time period. 

"Beef jerky provides all of the convenience of a traditional savory snack with no cooking or refrigeration needed, but packs a punch of protein and essential nutrients that make it stand out on the snack aisle," said Alisa Harrison, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing & Research for National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.

A Booming Category

Research shows that nearly 75 percent of consumers crave healthier salty snack options1, with beef jerky outselling seeds, party mixes and pita chips – combined.2 As consumers eat fewer sit-down meals and snack more on the go, the demand for portable protein has never been higher with more than half of Americans wanting to add more protein to their diet.3

"Beef jerky is the most underrated component of a busy person's life when trying to eat healthy," said Michael Roussell, Ph.D., nutrition consultant. "It helps solve the tricky balance of how to get enough protein throughout the day when you live a hectic, on-the-go lifestyle because it's extremely portable, compact and high quality. All my clients travel with beef jerky and I recommend it to enhance meals and snacks that are lacking protein."

Science Backing Beef Jerky as Recovery Food

The need for healthy snacks on the go increases as consumers take to the outdoors during the summer. With race season kicking off, beef jerky also is a powerful tool post-race or workout. In fact, a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism looked at beef jerky's effect on hydration status and sodium balance of endurance runners and found that beef jerky as a recovery snack following an endurance bout was comparable to traditional carbohydrate-electrolyte beverages.

"Enjoying sources of high-quality protein, like beef jerky, soon after exercise can enhance training, maximize muscle health and get you ready for your next workout," said Nancy Rodriguez, Ph.D., RD, FACSM, the study's author. "An alternative to post-workout snacks that often contain high carbohydrates, beef jerky is a high-quality protein snack that provides your body with essential amino acids needed to build, maintain and repair muscle."

Beef Jerky as the Ultimate Snack Hack

Following a race or workout is just one of many times when consumers are on the lookout for convenient, nutritious snacks. In celebration of upcoming National Jerky Day, the Beef Checkoff is sharing five hacks to curb common "snack attacks":

  1. Keep kids fueled after the final bell: School's out for summer! Keep the lid on the cookie jar and instead cure your kids' summer break hangries with beef jerky packed with protein, zinc, iron and b-vitamins.
  2. Avoid the workday energy slump: Store beef jerky in your desk drawer to stop yourself from trolling the candy bowl when you hit that wall – beef jerky's protein will help keep you full until dinnertime.
  3. Get unexpected post-workout benefits: Add beef jerky ("nature's protein bar") to your race recovery or gym bag to help build and repair muscle and enhance recovery after sweating it out.
  4. Stay lively on the trail: Drop beef jerky in your pack to power your hike, knowing you have ten essential nutrients to make it all the way back.
  5. Avoid the pit stop snack trap: Say buh-bye to sugary snack pit stops by keeping beef jerky in your car during roadtrips. When the kids ask, "Are we there yet?" hand over the jerky to keep their mouths busy and tummies full of protein.

"Beef jerky is always a go-to snack I eat and recommend to clients," said Chris Mohr, Ph.D., RD, nutrition consultant. "I love it in particular when traveling since it's non-perishable and a great source of high-quality protein."

About the Beef Checkoff

The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.

About NCBA, a Contractor to the Beef Checkoff

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The Beef Checkoff Program is administered by the Cattlemen's Beef Board, with oversight provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

¹Research from Mintel Group, Salty Snacks U.S. (2016)
²Research from Euromonitor
³Research from NPD Group, Protein Perceptions and Needs (2014)

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