why is beef jerky expensive

Even so, beef jerky is expensive. Beef jerky is so expensive because it uses a lot of quality meat to make just a little bit of jerky, the process takes resources and employees’ time, and beef jerky producers often buy from the beef industry and the price of beef can be expensive.

It’s been said that great things come in small packages. That truism definitely can be ascribed to beef jerky – a delicious meaty snack that, unfortunately, comes in small yet expensive packages.

When contemplating the price of beef jerky, a certain quote from The Sandlot comes to mind: “you’re killing me, Smalls.”

Seriously though… how does such a small amount of tasty, chewy beef jerky cost so much? Even the price of the “cheap jerky” you typically see at gas stations can be mind-boggling.

One of the main reasons the beef jerky costs so much is water. Beef is approximately 60% water, so once the meat is dehydrated or smoked, the weight of the remaining meat is drastically less than what you started with.

Here at Mountain America Jerky, a 50 lb smokehouse load yields 23 lbs of finished product.

When it comes to the price of beef jerky, a lot depends on the cut of beef used to make the jerky. The best cuts for beef jerky are lean, which are more expensive than fattier cuts. High-quality jerky makers like Mountain America Jerky tend to use top and bottom rounds, as these lean cuts provide the best flavor and texture for jerky.

While cheap jerky is made from less expensive, fattier cuts that have more marbling, this option sacrifices quality for a slightly lower price point for consumers. When it comes to beef jerky, the taste and texture of quality cuts are worth the price.

In addition to taking over twice as much initial weight to make even the smallest amount of beef jerky, the actual process of making jerky is time-intensive. From start to finish, it takes up to three days to make even a small batch of jerky.

While most commercially-made jerky is dehydrated in order to lower the labor cost of beef jerky, this method – while less labor-intensive – results in drier, rougher jerky. Many high-quality jerky makers opt to smoke their meat instead. This method requires a more hands-on approach but results in semi-moist, chewy strips of “meat licorice.” By and large, the smoking method is preferred by beef jerky enthusiasts, however it does mean a higher price tag.

Finally, many beef jerky companies use a lot of additives, such as preservatives and fillers. All of these extra chemicals and ingredients raise the price of low-quality beef jerky, as they increase production costs.

High-quality beef jerky typically doesn’t contain any additives; however, the cost of better cuts of beef and superior processing is reflected in its slightly higher price point.

So, why is beef jerky so expensive? A whole host of reasons. But as we said before, great things come in small packages… and quality beef jerky really is worth its weight in gold.

When contemplating the price of beef jerky, a certain quote from The Sandlot comes to mind: “you’re killing me, Smalls.”

High-quality beef jerky typically doesn’t contain any additives; however, the cost of better cuts of beef and superior processing is reflected in its slightly higher price point.

When it comes to the price of beef jerky, a lot depends on the cut of beef used to make the jerky. The best cuts for beef jerky are lean, which are more expensive than fattier cuts. High-quality jerky makers like Mountain America Jerky tend to use top and bottom rounds, as these lean cuts provide the best flavor and texture for jerky.

It’s been said that great things come in small packages. That truism definitely can be ascribed to beef jerky – a delicious meaty snack that, unfortunately, comes in small yet expensive packages.

In addition to taking over twice as much initial weight to make even the smallest amount of beef jerky, the actual process of making jerky is time-intensive. From start to finish, it takes up to three days to make even a small batch of jerky.

Beef Jerky Cost vs. Other Snack Foods

Source: USDA, et al.

A simple cost comparison of Beef Jerky vs. other snack foods shows that on average, its over 9 times more expensive. The reason behind this eye-popping statistic is more complicated than just higher cost ingredients. Lets take a look at why jerky is so expensive.

Factors That Make Beef Jerky Expensive

Making beef jerky isnt as simple as preparing other snack foods like potato chips, cheese curls, cookies and the rest. Not only are there many pieces to the cost puzzle, but every jerky is different which adds to the mystery. Consider how each of these elements can have a dramatic effect on the cost of beef jerky.

The ingredients for every beef jerky recipe represent a significant reason why beef jerky is so expensive.

The cost of beef itself is significantly higher the than primary ingredients of other popular snacks.

Main Ingredient Snack Price Per Pound
Beef Beef Jerky $6.23
Russet Potatoes Potato Chips $0.75
Corn Corn Chips $0.07
Peanuts Roasted Peanuts $0.21
All-Purpose Flour Crackers $0.45
Source: Source: Beef Magazine, Statista.com, Ycharts.com,StLouisFed.org

In addition, differences in beef quality can also add to the cost of individual jerkies. Examples include:

  • Leaner cuts of beef are preferred for higher quality jerky
  • Pasture-raised and grass-fed beef has greater flavor
  • Humane livestock practices require more space

The type of spices and flavorings used in preparation of the meat also contribute to the cost. For higher quality product these tend to be natural flavors and spices, while others may rely on extracts or powders to impart flavor.

Unlike other foods, the primary ingredient in beef jerky shrinks in size by 60-70% during preparation; this is water weight. So, a 6 oz steak only yields about 3.9 oz of jerky!

Thats a big reason why jerky is so expensive.

Preparing beef jerky requires a series of steps that are more labor intensive than the many mass-produced snack alternatives. The result? A pricier snack.

Beef jerky is prepared using the following steps:

  • Slicing – Meat is sliced and trimmed of fat by hand
  • Marinading – Combined with spices, the meat is marinaded to develop flavor
  • Laying – Meat strips are arranged by hand on a metal screen to ensure even cooking
  • Cooking – The strips are delicately heated at a low temperature and a consistent humidity
  • Packaging – The jerky sealed in air-tight, low-light containers to order to preserve freshness

Even so, beef jerky is expensive. Beef jerky is so expensive because it uses a lot of quality meat to make just a little bit of jerky, the process takes resources and employees’ time, and beef jerky producers often buy from the beef industry and the price of beef can be expensive.

FAQ

Is beef jerky actually healthy?

Beef jerky is an easy, on-the-go snack that packs high protein, zinc, and iron concentrations. Those nutrients are essential for overall health. Consuming beef jerky in moderation is key since processed and red meats can increase the risk of health complications.

What is a good price for beef jerky?

On average, beef jerky ranges from $1.31 per ounce to $2.90 per ounce.

Why is dried beef so expensive?

In most cases, dry-aged beef comes with a higher price tag. This price is attributed to two main factors: Reduced yields: Beef undergoes a significant moisture loss during the dry-aging process. As a result, the beef weighs far less than when it first started.

Why do people like beef jerky so much?

Great Source of Protein It can also be a great source of energy. Eating low fat jerky is ideal for anyone desiring to achieve their weight loss goals. It’s a convenient way to increase your intake of protein. Many people who eat beef jerky don’t have protein in mind, they simply eat it because it tastes great.

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