Why is Beef Jerky So Expensive?

Though the Beef Jerky is tasty and you  should never regret spending money on a good piece of high quality jerky but have you ever wondered, what makes it so expensive!

For the hardcore beef jerky lovers, a well-made piece of this jerky may the only thing they want to eat frequently. But as we know that most of great things come in small packages, beef jerky is no different. It comes in small packages with expensive price tags yet they have been in the people’s list of favourites foods for ages.

Is it worth paying?

  • I mean, astonishingly, even the “cheap” beef jerky packets come with a price that makes you doubtful about the definition of cheap. Why on earth this chewy and tasty beef jerky cost so much? Are you paying too much? Are they even worth the price? Let’s find out the answer.
  • Recommended reading: Make beef jerky with a dehydrator

7 Reasons Why Beef Jerky is So Expensive

1. Price of the meat

A better meat quality means a higher quality of jerky. Choosing a higher quality lean meat mean that the price of the jerky will probably be higher. Especialy if you go the grass fed, grass finished meats (which we highly recommend).

The price bracket of the meats is very wide depending on various factors like cut, fat percentage, origin, etc. To produce a great bag of jerky none of these factors can be overlooked.

2. Shrinking

Beef is almost 60% of water, and in the process of drying it to make jerky, most the water is evaporated. For instance, 2.5 lbs of beef shrinks to around 1 Ib of jerky. Which means, 1 lb of Jerky is worth of 2.5 lbs of  raw beef. That’s why the price shoots up 2.5 times at the very beginning of production.

Simply, beef is full of water but jerky isn’t. You are not only paying for the meat in this case but also for the labor that goes into dehydrating it.

3. Quality over Quantity

To produce good beef jerky, lean beef is used which is more expensive than other meats such as chicken, lamb, or pork. This is one of the main reasons why even 3 ounces of jerky costs so much.

For instance, fattier cuts come with marbles and that doesn’t match the quality and texture of top-quality lean cuts. Commercial brands often use the lesser quality fattier cuts to produce their jerky but the top tier brands never compromise on quality. That’s why they only use higher quality lean cut pieces of beef that are more expensive to begin with.

4. Labor charge

Not only it takes more than twice as much initial weight to start, but the process of making jerky is also quite time-consuming. For instance, even a small batch of jerky preparation takes 2-3 days minimum. So, the labour supplies behind the process are higher than most other meat items resulting in a higher price tag.

Even though there are many machines that can reduce manual labor but at the end of the day, to make get the best out of the meat, bigger brands still do ther work manually.

5. Process

The vast majority of beef jerky today is made using dehydrators. But the top tier brands smoke the beef which ensures a juicy, chewy, and semi-moist Beef Jerky. And this whole process requires an extensiveof hands-on approach. That’s why the price differs from big brands.

The newly invented commercial dehydrators or the traditional smoking process, both got some advantages and disadvantages. But at the end of the day, the best quality beef jerky is not possible to make without smoking it. And that’s why even if much more laborious and time-consuming, still it is the first choice for the beef jerky lovers.

beef jerky and spices on tablecloth

6. Additives

Many beef jerky brands use additives and fillers to enhance the taste of their products and preservatives too to keep them fresh for a long time. While the top brands don’t use such additives but their expensive cut meats and superior processing increase the overall price of their produced beef jerky.

So, in both cases, the price increases due to different reasons and factors like spices vary from brand to brand.


It comes down to one single question that do you want it to be cheap or to be done right? Yes, the answer is simple. 

That being said not all cheap brands are low quality. Before purchasing, take a look at the ingredients label and that’s where you can get a clearer picture of the product’s quality. If the taste is good and the ingredients are not so bad, that’s what it really matters.