The variety of choices in meat snacks is amazing. Bakeryandsnacks.com reported in November 2015 that there is an increasing European consumer interest in meat snacks. Europeans are looking for a snack food that has a higher level of protein, so meat snacks are the obvious choice.
Growth of Consumer Interest in Meat Snacks in Europe
The BakeryandSnacks report came from an interview with Euromonitor Jack Skelly who is a food analyst. He said that a meat snack appeals to consumers who are health conscious in comparison to other types of snacks such as chocolate, candies, chips, and biscuits, which most consider unhealthy.
Even though the global meat snacks market is in the multi-billions of Euros annually, it is still tiny compared to the total of the other snacks. The thing of interest to manufacturers is the incredible growth of the meat snacks sales. Sales grew at 10 or 11% each year from 2010 to 2015. This phenomenal growth outperforms any other snack food category. The other snack categories are seeing very little growth and in some cases declines.
Growth of Consumer Interest in Meat Snacks in America
At the same time, America has this same strong consumer trend of greater interest in healthy meat snacks. The Huffington Post reported on the increasing popularity of gourmet style dehydrated meat. In America, there are boutique shops that opened, which sell only dried meat. The flavours offered are delicious and new. This is the first expansion of flavours for dried meat in decades.
The Huffington Post article noted that a study from IRIWorldwide showed growth in the USA of the sales of meat snacks went from US$ 1.58 billion in 2009 to about $2.5 billion in 2014. The upward trend is continuing. Those interested in health and wellness consider snacks that are high in protein a better choice than those containing sugar, carbohydrates, or that are high in fats.
Athletic types are choosing performance enhancing meat snacks because of the fuel energy provided by the protein. Bodybuilders like to increase the protein in their diet as much as possible. They already consume protein shakes and protein bars, which is a massive, growing, global market as reported by Euromonitor. This is why meat snacks also appeal to them as an additional source of protein.
Hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, hunters, fishers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, have always enjoyed a meat snack because the ready-to-eat varieties require no preparation and they are lightweight, which makes them easy to carry. They are also more filling than other snacks and provide longer-lasting energy.
The Washington Post reported in January 2015 that beef jerky was the most popular choice for a meat snack in America. They noted that sales of beef jerky in the USA went from under a half billion dollars per year in 2005 to over one billion dollars annually by 2014.
Healthy Choices for a Meat Snack
Not all meat snacks are the same in terms of being a healthy choice. In order to figure out which are some of the healthier ones, it is helpful to look at the choices available. For this comparison, it only includes those that have ready-to-eat products available.
Here are some of the popular choices made from a variety of meats:
- Jerky – There are many kinds of meat used to make jerky in a wide variety of flavours. The most popular jerky meats are beef and turkey.
- Biltong – Biltong originated in South Africa. It is similar to jerky, but the processing and cutting of the meat is different. Biltong is usually thicker slabs, which allows it to be moist in the centre, compared to jerky, which is drier.
- Strips – Strips come from either thinly sliced meat or grinded/chopped meat that is pressed into a strip shape.
- Bars – Bars are thicker than strips.
- Stick types – These have the shape of a pencil and some maybe very long.
- Shredded/Chew -To make this style, the manufacturer shreds the jerky to make a product that resembles tobacco chew.
- Snack Bites – These are similar to the stick types, except that the manufacturer cuts the product into smaller bite-sized pieces.
- Chunks – These are irregular shaped chunky pieces.
- Cubes – This type is similar to chunks, except the cubes are regular shaped and all identical size.
- On a Stick – To make this type, meat put on a stick is basted with a sauce, such as teriyaki sauce, and then it is grilled. Ready-to-eat varieties are popular in Asia.
- Pepperoni – Pepperoni comes as a sausage, in slices, in sticks, and in snack bites.
- Salami – Dried salami comes in many varieties.
- Sausage – Sausage made from beef, turkey, or pork is available in ready-to-eat varieties.
- Ham – Cured or smoked ham is popular.
The choices between the shapes/styles are not as important as the nutritional values. The healthier products have no added sugar, less salt, and lower fat content. Anything made from beef should use only the finest cuts of premium meat that comes from grass fed (also called free-range) cattle. Check the ingredients carefully to determine the best meat snacks.