Dehydrated, salted meat snacks have been around for more than 400 years, but consumers are now looking anew at these savory snacks as a convenient source of protein and more healthful snack option, finds The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Consumption of meat snacks among adults increased by 18 percent over the last five years, according to NPD’s ongoing snacking research.
Beef is still 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 triple-digits in the year ending April 2015 compared to year ago, reports NPD’s SupplyTrack, a monthly tracking service that tracks every product shipped from major broadline distributors to its foodservice operators. Other meat snack types include bison, buffalo, elk, and salmon.
The most popular times to eat meat snacks, according to NPD’s food market research,is between lunch and dinner and as a late night snack. Young adults, ages 18 to 24, are more likely than any other age group to graze on meat snacks throughout the day; and although men eat far more meat snacks than women, women are increasing their consumption of these protein-packed treats.
Protein is the primary reason consumers are eating more meat snacks. Twenty-four percent of adults say they look for protein on nutrition labels, and 50 percent of adults say the best source of protein is animal protein. One ounce of beef or turkey jerky can have as much as 13 grams of protein. Another healthful plus is that meat snacks are typically low in fat.
“Meat snacks are an example of not all snacks being equal in terms of meeting different consumer needs,” says 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.”