The Reasons that Beef Jerky is So Expensive
The main reason that beef jerky has always been expensive is because it takes a lot of beef to make a bag of finished jerky. Anyone who has ever made jerky at home knows this.
In 2020 beef jerky and many goods became more expensive as a result of the covid-19 pandemic because of all the costly challenges that many industries were facing. By June of 2021, the cost of beef cuts used to make jerky went up 100% and the scarcity of supplies and shortages of employees in factories and businesses made it even more challenging and so jerky and other snack products hit new higher price levels. Making the best beef jerky is highly labor intensive and so of course demand has exceeded production. A reduced workforce in every industry means it takes longer to get supplies and longer to manufacture the product and that in turn reduces the supply and that ends up increasing the costs.
Jeff has been making beef jerky for more than forty years, but in 2010 we began manufacturing beef jerky commercially. It took two years of testing different cuts of beef and various methods of production to reach the standards of excellence that meet our high standards for quality and taste. After all, our mission has always been to make the most flavorful, mouth-watering, decadent, soft and tender super premium jerky in the world. And the reason no one has done it before is because the profit margins are smaller and reaching the objective is not easy. As every good cook knows, you have to use premium, high quality ingredients to make the best tasting food (as well as having the best recipe)… and that means every ingredient has to be premium and of course accomplishing the task will be more expensive.
Rising Costs of Beef and Other Premium Ingredients
Whoever said, “whatever goes up, always comes down” wasn’t referring to rising expenses to produce premium beef jerky. Remember when hamburger was so cheap that most households would buy it to use in recipes at home every week? Now look at it. The cost of producing a bag of super premium jerky has now risen almost two dollars per bag since 2010. The cost of labor has skyrocketed. This is part of what happens when the minimum wage goes up and when the labor force is scarce hourly wages are driven up as well. The cost of shipping has increased and the costs associated with buying premium cuts of American beef have skyrocketed and that is why so many of the giant manufactures of beef jerky primarily use beef from other countries such as New Zealand and South America that have longer periods of warm weather to raise cattle, but that doesn’t support as many jobs in America, so we refuse to do it. Jeff’s Famous Jerky only uses 100% USDA inspected beef and other meats from the best American ranches with ethical farming practices. And that costs more.
Where’s the Beef?
Let’s say you start with ten pounds of premium steak. You trim off the fat and any fatty gristle striations and already you may have lost up to a few pounds because it cannot be used. Marinade your jerky, cook it, and by the time it is finished and ready to eat… your original ten pounds of meat yields about three to four pounds of finished jerky. Although every recipe for every flavor is different.
Throw Away the Marinade.
The best beef jerky is not only made with the best (expensive) premium cuts of American beef, but also with the best marinade ingredients and recipes. Create the marinade and mix it well, evenly marinade the jerky meat, then THROW the marinade away. The flavor remains, but the costly marinade gets thrown away from every batch.
And There’s More.
The cost of beef has been rising for years, up to a 25% increase in cost from 2010 to 2020. Most consumers can relate because over the years, even the cost of ground beef at your local supermarket has risen much faster than inflation.
Making Beef Jerky is Labor Intensive.
Most small batch, minimally processed jerky is incredibly labor intensive to make. And the cost of labor keeps rising. In California, the minimum wage has increased two years in a row with more increases coming. It takes a lot of highly-trained people to make even one batch of finished jerky. Making really good beef jerky is an art.
Ingredients for jerky marinades come from all over the world. There are no short cuts for quality ingredients and over the years as the desire for complex flavor infusion becomes more desirable, the costs for ingredients keeps rising.
USDA Inspected Production Facilities
There is no such thing as cheap jerky production. Production facilities are highly regulated by the USDA and you can’t expect to make quality jerky without expensive commercial equipment. It is not uncommon for one oven to cost $100,000 and even the smallest production facility start-up may cost more than one million dollars to build out and open.
Bringing Jerky to the World
Packaging, shipping, transportation, shipping supplies, insurance, marketing materials, displays and promotional supplies, advertising, sales staff, social media marketing, quality assurance, new product development, office and warehouse expenses, customer service… the list of expenses is endless, but well-worth the deliciousness that follows. So, even if it does cost a bit more, are you ready to try some of the world’s best beef jerky?