- A new study by research firm Technavio projects global meat snack sales will reach $9.47 billion in 2021, reflecting a 9.5% compound annual growth rate, according to Meat + Poultry. Convenience stores captured 53% of sales in 2016.
- Growth is being fueled by consumer demand for healthy, low calorie and high protein foods as well as a a larger variety of meat snacks offered by both big manufacturers as well as innovative newcomers.
- Jerky products represent about half of the global meat snacks market and are the preferred variety among U.S. consumers.
Sales of meat snacks have surged more than 7% in each of the past four years, while other salty snacks such as chips and pretzels have been on the decline, according to Nielsen data. The Technavio study forecasts the global meat snacks market to grow by about 9% annually through 2021.
Meat snacks' popularity comes at a time when desire for protein is surging — and deflation is keeping meat prices down. For many consumers, meat consumption has translated to meat snacks, which are considered more convenient and provide the same protein and health benefits.
Innovation in meat snacks is drawing new consumers to the category. Unusual favor profiles like grilled sweet teriyaki and garlic chili pepper attract those with an adventurous taste palette. Premium brands — like Krave, which offers a low-fat, high protein and all-natural treat — are bringing customers back into the fold who were previously turned off by high-sodium and highly processed competitors.
Millennials especially are enjoying meat snacks as they look for something different and healthier in their snacking. Meat snacks have a “health halo” because of their protein and healthy fat amounts. Many also contain vegetables and grains, furthering the healthy belief.
Given the lofty pace of sales growth projected, it’s no surprise that big food manufacturers – including Tyson and Hershey – are increasingly exploring the potential of meat snacks. Hershey already took a big step forward by acquiring trendy jerky brand Krave.
Convenience stores remain the main distribution channel for meat snacks, accounting for 53% of sales, according to Technavio research. But other channels are moving in to take advantage of the category’s growth. Nielsen’s research shows consumers buy meat snacks at supercenters 25% of the time and from grocery stores another 23%.
Smart food makers will be wise to expand their portfolios of healthy meat snacks. Meanwhile, smart retailers can be expected to revisit snack aisles and checkout lanes to ensure meat snacks are adequately represented.