The meat snacks market is now worth $3.6B, and we’ve come a long way from jerky’s old guard at the cash register.
As the demand for convenient, protein-packed snacks hits overdrive, jerky—both animal-based and vegan—is in. From classic beef to oyster mushroom analogs, jerky appears to be the next alt-meat battleground.
Meat the New Guard
Tracking with the concurrent trend of better-for-you snacking, on-the-go convenience, and sustained interest in paleo and keto diets, beef jerky is a hot grab at the grocery store. The global meat snacks market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% and reach a whopping US$ 14.5 billion by the end of 2029.
So, what’s driving the spike?
While the category has historically been driven by Jack Link’s, Conagra Foods (maker of Slim Jims), and Oberto, consumers are now looking for a meat snack with a cleaner label, lower sugar, and less ingredients. And investors writing big checks to enter the space.
- Texas-based meat snack maker Stryve, which went public in 2021, closed a $35M private offering this January.
- Grass-fed jerky company Chomps just raised $80M in a funding round led by Stride Consumer Partners, valuing the company near $300M.
- The New Primal ($15M) and Country Archer ($12M) secured funding during the pandemic.
With other early movers like General Mills-owned EPIC Provisions and Olivia Munn-backed Chef’s Cut still in play, the market is rife with healthier jerky.
Pick Your Plant
Plant-based, imitation jerky is finding its place.
- Per Nielson, plant-based options account for a fraction of the $3.6B meat snack market, roughly $6.5M.
- Yet, while IRI data suggests overall jerky sales have risen 20% since the pandemic started, animal-free jerky sales jumped almost 60% since 2017.
- A proof point of sorts, Canada’s NOBLE Jerky, which is made from soy, saw slumping sales improve 70% since pivoting its business from animal-based to vegan jerky in 2019.
Realizing the opportunity, the entrants, as well as types of plant-based proteins, are almost too numerous to count.
- Hershey-owned KRAVE and The PLANeT Partnership (a joint venture between PepsiCo and Beyond Meat) are creating strips from peas and beans.
- Moku, Eat the Change, and Mark Cuban-backed Pan’s have cornered the mushroom jerky market.
- Making jerky and burgers from kelp, AKUA secured $3.2M in November 2021.
- Foreal Foods ($500K) deals in coconut, while Nestlé-owned Sweet Earth just launched seitan jerky.
Takeaway: The Meat vs. “Meat” debate has reached the snack aisle, but as jerky has emerged as a go-to for the health-conscience consumer, both varieties will continue to find purchase. As the brands continue to multiply, the meat snack market is poised for further growth.