Why is Beef Jerky so Expensive? Major Reasons

The cost of raw beef, high-quality ingredients, non-automated processing, required time and energy, and the dehydration process all contribute to why Beef jerky is so expensive.

Why is Beef Jerky so Expensive?

Beef jerky is one of the most delectable snacks available, but it can also be one of the priciest. 

This article goes over each of the aforementioned reasons in detail, giving you an inside look at what distinguishes our jerky from other mass-production jerky manufacturers.

Reasons why Beef Jerky is so Expensive

The price of this famous meat treat is determined by a number of factors, the majority of which are related to water weight. These are the reasons:

1. Raw Beef Cost

Beef is an expensive raw good, and it’s even more costly when sourcing 100% USA beef exclusively as we do at People’s Choice Beef Jerky. 

Beef jerky also requires lean cuts of meat due to the fat’s potential to go rancid. 

This increases the overall price as the leaner the cut of meat, the more expensive it costs.

2. High-Quality Ingredients

The second factor driving the cost of beef jerky is indirectly related to the first factor. 

The quality of the raw ingredients meat, spices, marinades, and other inputs directly affect the quality of the end product. 

We’ve learned that better quality raw ingredients translate into a better quality end jerky product. For example, spices sourced from top quality spice producers make more flavorful, nuanced end products. 

You can cut corners and work with lesser quality vendors, but this can result in less flavorful spices.

In a nutshell, high-quality beef jerky recipes require high-quality ingredients.


3. Non-Automated Processing

There are certain steps in the beef jerky making process that are uniquely labor-intensive. 

While food technology and automatic machinery can optimize specific steps of the jerky making process (for example, an automatic slicer is more efficient and exact than hand-slicing), there are certain steps that require the human touch. 

One such step is the process of laying the marinated jerky onto stainless steel screens.

In a nutshell, certain aspects of beef jerky production require manual labor and therefore increases overall product costs.

4. Time & Energy

The dehydration and cooking process is a time consuming procedure.

To hit the critical control points of time and temperature to ensure a safe and wholesome product, a batch of jerky has to be cooked for an extended period of time. 

This process can range from two to six hours depending on the thickness of the meat and temperature of the oven.

The longer amount of time required to cook the jerky, the more expensive the end product. 

5. Result of the Dehydration Process

The most critical factor driving the high cost of beef jerky is the result of the dehydration and cooking process. 

Raw beef is composed of nearly 75% water, the majority of which evaporates during the cooking process. 

The process of removing moisture is the critical factor in transforming raw meat into a shelf-stable, ready-to-eat jerky snack. 

In summary, raw beef is composed of nearly 75% water, the majority of which evaporates during the dehydration process. 

Therefore, this process multiplies overall costs by a minimum of 3x, making the final product more expensive.

Why does Beef Jerky Cost so Much Money?

Beef jerky is made from whole cuts of meat, so it takes a lot of time and effort to make. It also requires a lot of seasoning and special care to preserve.

That’s why beef jerky is often more expensive than other types of dried meat snacks.

Is it Expensive to Make Beef Jerky?

It’s very expensive at the beginning, since you’ll need decent tools to make a delicious beef jerky. Also, you’ll be buying beef, and raw ingredients like spices at full retail prices.

You will be making small batches at home, depending on your beef jerky recipe. Like gardening, if you stick with the hobby long-term, you can bring per-batch costs down so it’s not too expensive.

However, you will likely never compete with jerky sold in bulk by companies making it at scale.

What is the Markup on Beef Jerky?

The markup on beef jerky is around 37% to 50%. This means that a $9 bag of jerky usually goes wholesale for $6.

Now, the markup depends on the retailer and their pricing strategy. You will likely only find 37% markup at online retailers and large grocery stores.

The smaller the retailer, the higher their markup since their inventory & capital costs are higher. Gas stations may mark a bag up 60% to 100%.


Raw beef costs, high-quality ingredients, non-automated processing, required time and energy, and the dehydration process all contribute to the high price of beef jerky. We believe the above piece of information was useful. Please, kindly share this content on all platforms.

CSN Team.

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