Why Is Beef Jerky So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

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Maisie Hughes

Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

Known for its salty taste and chewy texture, beef jerky is a delightful snack, and part of beef jerky’s charm is that you can eat it plain or with cheese, nuts, or crackers.

One downside to snacking on beef jerky is the price, which averages $2.08 an ounce. Why is beef jerky so expensive? Here are 11 reasons that will help you understand why!

Why Is Beef Jerky So Expensive?

Beef jerky is expensive because of the raw beef and extensive process involved in making it. By itself, raw beef is quite pricey. As the beef is seasoned and dehydrated, the cost of producing beef jerky rises. Beef jerky takes a lot of time and energy to make, even with automated processing.

If you are interested in learning more about the intricate process of creating beef jerky and the high-quality ingredients that make beef jerky costlier than ever, keep on reading!

1. Beef Is One Of The Most Costly Meats Today

Regardless of where you are in the world, beef tends to cost more than other types of meat. Mainly, this is because beef takes more time, money, and effort to rear and process.

Consequently, droughts, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions worldwide have caused beef prices to rise even further.

Also, with the immense gap between the demand and supply of beef, beef jerky producers need to compete with a large market to procure their supply of beef.

Naturally, the difficulty and costliness of acquiring raw beef only make beef jerky more expensive in the market.

2. Beef Jerky Can Be Made From Different Cuts

Beef jerky can be made from different cuts of beef. Depending on the cut you use, the beef jerky can come out tastier, tougher, or more tender.

Typically, the cuts used for beef jerky are the pectoral, bottom round, lifter, and top round. However, cuts like skirt steak and flank can produce delicious jerky.

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Nevertheless, these cuts of beef do not cost the same. While all of them are pricey, some can be cheaper or more expensive than others based on several factors.

Also, when manufacturers use the choicest cut of beef to make their beef jerky, you can expect that the beef jerky will have a heftier price tag.

3. Beef Suppliers Can Vary Per Beef Jerky Brand

Beef jerky manufacturers usually get their beef from one or two suppliers, and these suppliers can be reputed for providing top-quality meat.

That said, suppliers with a better reputation will naturally sell their beef at a higher price, which sets the benchmark for the final selling price of the beef jerky.

Additionally, beef jerky manufacturers can secure discounts from bulk purchases, but these discounted prices are still likely to be expensive due to the shortage of beef.

4. Choice Of Spices & Marinades Increases Costs

Raw beef is not the only pricey ingredient used in making beef jerky. Typically, beef jerky manufacturers will try to get the most flavorful spices to produce tastier jerkies.

That said, acquiring these high-quality spices means partnering with reputable spice producers, either locally or internationally.

It frequently happens, too, that beef jerky manufacturers need to partner with more than one or two suppliers to get all their desired ingredients.

So, apart from the cost of the ingredients themselves, shipping these ingredients can inflate the cost of production and, therefore, the beef jerky’s selling price.

5. Beef Jerky Involves Automated & Non-Automated Processing

5. Beef Jerky Involves Automated & Non-Automated Processing

Most beef jerky manufacturers use automated processing to speed up and enhance the production of their beef jerky.

However, not all manufacturers rely only on machines to get the job done.

For example, some parts of the process, like placing beef strips on mesh trays, are still best accomplished by human hands.

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Consequently, more manual labor means more wages, and covering them often spikes beef jerky prices.

6. Dehydrating & Cooking Beef Is A Lengthy Process

Dehydrating and cooking beef can last anywhere from six to 12 hours. After all, beef has a lot of moisture, and all of that moisture needs to be extracted.

Also, on top of these 12 hours is the lengthy process of deboning, defatting, curing, freezing, and slicing the meat.

Therefore, even with most of the tasks automated, processing the beef jerky from start to finish can still take a lot of time.

Typically, the more time it takes to produce goods like beef jerky, the more costly they become.

7. It Takes A Lot Of Raw Beef To Make Beef Jerky

Dehydrated beef is significantly shorter and leaner than raw beef, which means that producing one pound of beef jerky would require around three to four pounds of raw meat.

Also, this is a difference that requires manufacturers to purchase beef in massive bulks.

Naturally, the more beef used to make one pack of beef jerky, the pricier the beef jerky becomes.

8. Beef Jerky Requires Special Packaging

Beef jerky needs to be sold in special packaging that preserves the freshness of the jerky. Otherwise, the beef jerky will likely spoil or develop a different taste upon sale.

Usually, manufacturers use five different types of packaging, two of which are the vacuum-sealed bag and the triple-barrier bag.

Therefore, since these bags come with special features, they tend to be pricier than traditional packaging, resulting in the price inflation of beef jerky.

9. Beef Jerky Comes In Several Flavors

Beef jerky is a big hit that companies started producing beef jerky in multiple flavors. Today, you can buy teriyaki, garlic, and pepper beef jerky, among others.

However, additional ingredients also mean extra cost. Moreover, some of these ingredients may even be branded seasonings in partnership with the beef jerky manufacturer.

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As such, you can expect that flavored beef jerky will be expensive, but even more so than the original beef jerky flavor.

10. Brand Name Impacts Beef Jerky Prices

The brand name has a significant impact on the selling price of beef jerky. Generally, more popular and reputable brand names can get away with selling more expensive beef jerky.

Mainly, this is because brand name gives consumers better security about the quality of their beef jerky, and the higher the quality, the higher the mark-up on the beef jerky.

11. Import Fees & Shipping Costs Are High

Beef jerky is being produced worldwide, and with the popularity of beef jerky, it is not surprising that multiple companies are making international shipments.

That said, once the beef jerky enters another country, import fees and shipping costs can drastically increase the selling price.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why Wagyu is so expensive, why Spam is so expensive, and why pizza is so expensive.

Conclusion

Beef jerky is a popular snack known not only for being delicious but also for being expensive.

For the most part, the priciness of beef jerky can be attributed to the fact that beef is an expensive meat to purchase. Additionally, there is an increased demand for beef today.

Still, other factors have to be considered: the high cost of producing, packaging, and shipping beef jerky. With these in mind, it becomes clear why beef jerky is expensive.

Author

  • Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

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