Text reading 'I prefer the term lavish'

Why Is Beef Jerky So Expensive?

You might assume that the most popular road trip snack is inexpensive. But when you go to grab your protein-packed beef jerky and notice the price tag, you do a double take.

You may be a jerky aficionado who’s aware of the beef jerky cost. Or maybe you had a recent sticker shock. The fact is — beef jerky ain’t cheap!

There's a good reason for the cost of beef jerky. For instance, that snack you love so much comes from the finest cuts of meat. Then, when you learn the long process of how it’s made and consider supply chain shortages, it starts to make more sense. 

First, How Much Does Beef Jerky Cost Per Ounce?

Let’s start by prefacing this maybe not-so-well-known fact — not all beef jerky is equal. With any product, you’re likely to find a range of prices from different companies, and beef jerky is no exception.

However, that range in price usually indicates the quality of meat. Considering how meat ranges from top to low quality, your taste buds probably crave the good stuff.

In 2022, the cost of good-quality beef jerky is reaching close to $4 per ounce. You can easily find beef jerky at a lower cost. But you should know that those cheaper products are essentially made from the leftover parts of the cow that the manufacturers can’t otherwise sell.

[Related: How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?]

So, Why Does Beef Jerky Cost So Much?

Cost of Beef

Consider the price difference between a three-pound steak and a one-pound steak. There’s going to be quite a difference in cost there. 

It’s important to realize that the process of making beef jerky starts with a large piece of high-quality cow meat. The water is then removed through dehydration, which makes the final product appear much smaller. 

Nevertheless, the initial cost is still there, despite the process resulting in a much smaller piece of meat. Beef jerky companies would lose money to extend a discount of their upfront costs.


You can’t make beef jerky without the cow! 

There are basically two different labor aspects to consider with beef jerky. First of all, there is the farmer who raises the cow and spends time and money providing food, water, and care to the animal.

Next, you have to keep in mind the long process of turning a cut of meat into beef jerky. It takes quite a while to:

  • Identify the best cuts of meat.
  • Add the spices to give you that flavor you love.
  • Cut the meat into strips.
  • Dehydrate it down to the perfect texture.
  • And packaging for distribution. 

It’s a lengthy and precise process to get the quality jerky you expect.

Supply Chain & Beef Demand

Industries far and wide are feeling the effects of supply chain shortages. Add in the sudden rise in beef prices, and it’s no surprise that beef jerky is seeing a surge. 

In 2020, the average cost per pound of beef jerky was around $30. That came out to $1.87 per ounce. 

However, the supply chain issues the country is still experiencing are causing costs to rise across the board. In fact, beef saw a 20% price increase in 2021

[Related: Is Beef Jerky Healthy?]

Is It Cost-Effective to Make Your Own Beef Jerky?

If the price of high-quality beef jerky off the shelf feels out of reach, there is always the DIY option! If you choose to make your own beef jerky, you can 

  • Choose how much to spend on meat (and thus control the cost).
  • Use your favorite spices.
  • Work around any dietary restrictions you or your family members have. 

Check out our other blogs for all the know-how and tutorials you need to get started!

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck in the Jerky Marketplace

If making your own beef jerky sounds intimidating, you can always find high-quality beef jerky for a reasonable price at our store in the Jerky Marketplace. Our variety of flavors, from smoked hickory to blazing buffalo to maple madness, means we have something for everyone. 

Whether you decide to make your own jerky or simply look for a good deal on high-quality jerky, the Jerky Universe has all the resources you need. Simply follow us on social and subscribe to our newsletter below to stay up to date!

Back to blog