Last year, sales were up across most of the grocery store. Meat snacks – like jerky and protein lunch snacks – did not have the same success. Working from home, e-learning and generally staying inside wasn’t conducive for the sales of on-the-go, protein-packed snacks. As the nation continues to re-open, these categories are seeing improved performance. As shoppers are reaching for these products again, though, are they reaching for the same-old option or are there new innovations in meat snacks that consumers are gravitating toward?
At the top of the category is Jack Link’s with annual sales that make up nearly half of the category’s $1.9 billion sales. Jack Link’s, as well as most of the other top 10 jerky brands, have one thing in common – bold nutrition information front of pack. The jerky category clearly knows who it is targeting – consumers looking for a high protein snack. Looking at the smaller brands with the highest percentage growth in the last year – No Man’s Land, Mingua Beef and Cattleman’s Cut – there are two other commonalities: a “natural” callout on the package and outside the box flavors, like Garlic & Onion from Mingua Beef.1
As for fun, exciting and innovative flavors – consumers are specifically craving that, too. Thirty percent of shoppers say “new flavors” is an attribute they look for when choosing a salty snack. Additionally, about a quarter say meat snacks provide a good variety of flavors.3
Several other jerky brands – both on and off the Top 10 list – follow this same pattern for attracting customers. Tillamook Country Smoker® jerky (the number five jerky) features protein, carbohydrate and sugar callouts on the front of the package as well as a “no artificial ingredients” callout alongside the others. Chomps® sells a variety of meat sticks with Whole30®, Keto and Paleo certifications on back. Finally, biltong and kid-targeted meat snacks are newer additions to the category.
This category, with nearly $3 billion in sales, is dominated by Lunchables but also contains items like the Hillshire Snacking packs. These products, which are sometimes labeled and sold as charcuterie packs, can serve as meals or snacks, in line with the Midan Marketing charcuterie research. Thirty percent of meat consumers said in the research they make charcuterie boards as a snack and about the same number – 31% – said they serve as a great no-cook dinner.5
Brand performance within this category was mixed, with some of the top brands hitting higher year-over-year sales figures and others seeing dips. Specifically, some of the brands with a younger focus (like Armour® Lunch Makers® and P3) saw diminished sales numbers in the last year. The brands and items with the high sales increases were Sargento® Balanced Breaks® and Hormel’s Party Trays.1 The growth in party trays shows a pandemic trend that could continue past restrictions – on nights when there’s too much happening to cook, party trays offer a one-step, do-it-yourself dinner option.
1 IRI POS Syndicated Data, MULO+C, 52 weeks ending 5/30/2021
2 IRI POS Syndicated Data, MULO+C, 52 weeks ending 6/28/2020
3 Mintel, Salty Snacks – US, April 2021
4 Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal, 210 Analytics LLC, The Power of Meat 2021: An In-Depth Look at Meat Through the Shopper’s Eyes, Report sponsored by Sealed Air Food Care Division/Cryovac® and Published by Food Marketing Institute Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education
5 Midan Marketing, Multicultural Meat Consumer Survey, March 1-5, 2021