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Why is Beef Jerky So Expensive?

Why is Beef Jerky So Expensive?

Last Updated on April 13, 2021 by Jim Edwards

Do you love beef jerky as much as we do? If you do, your second thought is probably wondering why it costs so much, right?!

We were curious too. And then some readers emailed us to ask and we thought we would share what we learned with our community.

In short, beef jerky is so expensive because it costs a lot to produce. It seems super simple…but it’s actually quite complicated.

Let us walk you through all the reasons why beef jerky costs so much


Beef Cattle are Expensive

You already know this one. Beef is expensive because of all the land, feed and cost of raising cows. Land is rare and all of the components cost a lot and raise the price so the only way to really lower them is to use lower quality imported beef. The way that you will know if this is the case in what you are eating is to look carefully at the package. If it says clearly that the beef is from the US, the manufacturer will proudly state it on the package.

If instead is says something like “packaged in the USA” or “manufactured in the US” it is a sign that the manufacturer is perhaps trying to get you to think the beef is from the US. But it most likely means that the beef is imported and then processed, packaged or manufactured in the U.S.

Creating a pound of Beef Jerky Requires More than a Pound of Beef

This is obvious but you probably never thought about it in detail, right? When you make jerky you are drying out the beef and much of the water and moisture are lost in the process. Some have even said that beef is 70%+ water so that means that sometimes multiple pounds of meat are required to make ONE pound of beef jerky. Some beef jerky manufacturers have stated that it can take between 2 and 4 pounds to make one finished pound of beef jerky!

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And this is an area in which cheaper jerky is different from more expensive versions. Cheaper, mass produced jerky tends to use more low cost additives like sugar, salt or sauces to add extra weight and use less meat. More expensive jerky usually has less additives and again it costs more to produce. Honestly, we love both cheap and expensive jerky. We are not snobs – they both have their place in our hearts, and mouths!

Quality Spices and Secondary Ingredients are also Expensive

The higher the quality fo the ingredients, the higher the prices. Everyone knows that, right? But quality spices sourced from top spice producers are more expensive than you may realize.

The Manufacturing Process can be Expensive too

Some of the steps in the jerky making process are quiet labor intensive. Many of them can be automated such as a food assembly line and an automatic slicing machine, some of the more expensive jerky’s involve hand processing at more points during the process

Jerky is Usually Made from Leaner Meat

When you make beef jerky you have to be carefully to trim the fat. The fat does not preserve well when it is dehydrated and can cause the whole batch to spoil. Beef jerky makers know this of course so they will typically purchase leaner cuts, and those cuts are usually more expensive.

Video: The Real Reason Beef Jerky is So Expensive

If you want to learn more, this video is worth a watch!

If you like beef jerky, check out our post about Pringles potato chips – they go great with jerky!

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