Consumers Are Looking Anew at Meat Snacks

CHICAGO — Consumers are taking a second look at dehydrated, salted meat snacks like jerky as a convenient source of protein and a more healthful snack option, according to research from The NPD Group. Consumption of meat snacks among adults has increased by 18 percent over the last five years.

Beef continues to be the leading meat snack type consumed, but turkey jerky is the fastest growing. Cases of turkey jerky shipped from foodservice distributors to restaurants and other foodservice outlets increased by a triple-digit percentage in the year that ended April 2015 compared to one year previously, according to NPD's monthly tracking service SupplyTrack. Other meat snack types include bison, buffalo, elk and salmon.

"Meat snacks are an example of not all snacks being equal in terms of meeting different consumer needs," stated Annie Roberts, vice president, SupplyTrack. "Knowing the needs products address is important in making sure you're getting the right products in the right places for the right people."

The most popular times to eat meat snacks are between lunch and dinner, and as a late-night snack. Young adults aged 18-24 are more likely than any other age group to graze on meat snacks throughout the day. While men eat far more meat snacks than women, women are increasing their consumption of these protein-heavy snacks.

Protein is the primary reason consumers are eating more meat snacks, with 24 percent of adults saying they look for protein on nutrition labels and 50 percent saying that the best source of protein is animal protein. One ounce of beef or turkey jerky can have as much as 13 grams of protein. Additionally, meat snacks are typically low in fat.

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