Beef jerky is expensive due to its high-quality flavoring ingredients, high-quality meat selection, and dehydration process. This tasty snack offers a nutritious, protein-packed alternative to common options. It’s low-fat content and easy-to-prepare nature makes it a premium choice, justifying the extra expense.
Beef jerky, a tantalizing snack coveted by many, often leaves consumers questioning the hefty price tag attached to this dehydrated delight. But have you ever paused to ponder the reasons behind its wallet-thinning cost?
In today’s blog post, we’re unraveling the mystery of beef jerky’s exorbitant pricing, exploring factors that contribute to its luxurious status, and revealing secrets from the world of meaty indulgence.
Prepare to be enthralled as we embark on a captivating journey into the world of beef jerky economics, and by the end, you’ll never look at this savory snack the same way again.
10 Reasons Why Beef Jerky Is so Expensive
1. High-Quality Ingredients
Premium beef jerky made with top-of-the-line ingredients typically has a heftier price tag than jerky made from lower-quality cuts of beef and fewer spices.
Moreover, the cost of beef can fluctuate based on the laws of supply and demand. When high-grade cuts are in short supply, their price often rises, leading to a more expensive final product.
Conversely, when cheaper types of beef are abundant, you’ll likely be able to find bargain varieties of beef jerky at your local store or online retailers.
In addition to the type and quality of meat used in its production, other factors such as packaging and shipping costs may also increase the amount you pay for your favorite snack food!
2. Labor-Intensive Process
Creating delicious, high-quality beef jerky requires more than just drying out beef slices and coating them with flavorful spices.
In fact, the process consists of six distinct steps: slicing, curing, dehydrating, smoking (or liquid smoke), flavoring, and packaging.
Slicing involves removing fat from the cut steak pieces as any remaining fat can cause the jerky to spoil quickly.
Connective tissue must also be removed in this phase which adds to its difficulty.
The second step is to cure the meat which needs to sit in a curing solution for a certain amount of time; not enough time will mean that it won’t be cured adequately while too long will lead to the degradation of the meat itself.
To complete dehydration, a good combination of heat and airflow is required and some types may even need further smoke or liquid smoke treatment depending on the desired flavor profile.
Finally, all ingredients are added according to taste before packaging them ready for sale – requiring intricate attention at each stage of production supplying you with crispy yet succulent strips that make up your favorite snack!
3. Cost of Raw Beef
The significantly elevated price of beef jerky is mainly due to the cost of raw beef, with top-quality cuts ranging from $58-$114 per pound.
Compared to poultry like chicken and turkey, as well as pork, beef costs considerably more. High-end varieties of jerky like Wagyu and USDA Angus are especially pricey since these cattle require extra care when being raised on grass-fed, free-range diets.
This added labor makes the resulting slivers of meat even more expensive than other kinds. Moreover, some types of steak aren’t very abundant in general so scarcity plays a role too in their highly-priced state. In addition to this, delays in the supply chain and refrigerated transport can also push up prices further.
Until scientists come up with an alternative source that replicates real beef but at a lower cost – such as plant-based replacements – it appears that costly dried strips will remain somewhat exclusive for now.
4. Expensive Spices Used
Beef Jerky is so expensive due to the variety of spices and seasonings that can be used in its production. Spices like garlic, paprika, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and teriyaki sauce all infuse the jerky with flavor but also dramatically increase its cost.
Of these ingredients, liquid smoke may be the most costly as it’s typically sold at around $10 per 16 ounces or more. This means that a single 10-ounce bag of beef jerky could require up to one entire bottle of liquid smoke alone!
Even more highly flavored jerkies made with saffron are pricier still as this is one of the world’s most luxurious and expensive spices. All these factors contribute to why beef jerky can come at such an elevated price point.
5. Time-Consuming Dehydration and Smoking
Beef jerky is expensive because the process of creating it requires an investment in time, equipment, and resources.
To make beef jerky, large pieces of beef must be dried to a specific moisture content–a process that can take anywhere from seven to twenty-four hours depending on the thickness of the meat.
The beef must be hung up or spaced out adequately inside dehydration chambers for proper airflow and evaporation of internal moisture, which can lead to extended drying times if done improperly.
To ensure timely production with consistent quality across batches, industrial dehydrators are typically employed; these machines cost thousands of dollars and require ongoing maintenance.
Drying small batches by hand isn’t any less expensive as this approach restricts output and limits profits drastically–ultimately putting a strain on business operations.
Finding a balance between minimalizing costs while also optimizing yields presents one of the most complex conundrums that many beef jerky producers grapple with daily, making this particular snack food inherently more expensive than its alternatives.
6. Expensive Facility Insurance
Producing beef jerky is a complex process that doesn’t come cheap for producers. To minimize potential losses due to accidents, employers must invest in production facility insurance policies.
These policies are designed to protect businesses from losing profits due to employee injuries, customer illnesses related to their products and equipment malfunction, or replacement needs.
Although a standard policy may cost around $35 per month for small business owners, larger manufacturers can pay over $1000 annually on such coverage alone – meaning the price of beef jerky reflects these costs as well as other associated expenses such as packaging materials.
7. High Demand
Creating beef jerky is a lengthy and meticulous process that, when done correctly, results in delicious, flavorful strips of meat.
While fresh cuts of beef require careful preparation to avoid overcooking or spoilage; beef jerky can remain shelf-stable for months at a time without worry of going bad.
This convenience makes it popular among busy individuals who are looking for an easy way to incorporate more protein into their diet.
However, due to its laborious creation process and limited availability, it remains one of the costlier snack options on the market today – particularly compared to carb-heavy snacks like potato chips.
8. Costly Packaging
Beef jerky’s high cost is largely due to the packaging required for it to remain shelf stable during shipping and storage.
The small, sealed plastic bags that contain either strips or pieces of dehydrated beef must be made with anti-tear properties as well as a zipper top to ensure that air does not enter the bag.
This air could potentially cause the meat to spoil from mold and bacteria if humidity levels are too high.
Additionally, tiny silicone packets are added inside these bags which absorb moisture so that mold and bacteria will not form in an otherwise humid environment.
These features reduce the risk of spoilage but also add costs that consumers end up bearing at checkout time.
9. Less Weight of Dried Beef
When you purchase a snack-sized bag of beef jerky, you may not realize that it is made from around three times its weight in raw meat.
This is because when the premium quality raw beef goes through the dehydration and smoking process to turn into jerky, it can shrink by up to 66%, resulting in significant water loss.
To put this into perspective, if you started with a $22 six-ounce piece of high-quality meat, after this process it would be reduced to less than four ounces.
Thus, given how pricey these cuts of beef are already and how much was needed for making one standard-sized 10-ounce bag of jerky, it’s quite remarkable that we don’t pay more for our snacks!
10. High Shipping Costs
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global supply chain, causing severe labor shortages in transportation industries.
This lack of truck drivers, cargo ship workers, and other crucial personnel involved in shipping products around the world has caused a dramatic increase in shipping costs.
Although an individual bag of beef jerky may not seem to be overly heavy or difficult to transport, it is grouped with numerous other bags transported together in large boxes that can weigh several tons when combined.
Moving these bulky items requires a great deal of time and effort from capable employees, which are unfortunately hard to come by due to current conditions worldwide.
Consequently, customers now have to pay higher prices for their favorite snacks such as beef jerky.