Enjoyed by ancient Incans, snacked on by the first American settlers, relied upon by explorers, jerky has never been out of style. But now, thanks to snack-obsessed Millennials and trendy, protein-heavy diets, it’s selling more than ever. According to the market research firm IRI, Americans spent $2.8 billion on jerky last year, resulting in a 12.5 percent growth in sales. And people aren’t just eating traditional beef jerky.
The jerky industry has expanded to feature meats like pork, turkey and chicken. “There’s been a shift in food. People for a long time were afraid of eating meat. But since then people are understanding that healthy animal protein is nourishing and we evolved as a species consuming it,” Taylor Collins, the cofounder of Epic, told NPR. His company, which currently produces protein bars made with meats like bison and lamb, is about to enter the jerky market with products made with salmon, venison and wild boar. But as much as people are, apparently, getting more in touch with their primal, meat-loving sides, jerky producers are also appealing to non-meat-eaters. A company called Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. makes jerky out of textured soy protein with trendy flavors like Sriracha maple and bourbon smoked chipotle.
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Want to get in on the jerky trend? Try making your own at home with our easy step-by-step instructions.