Slumping U.S. meat prices help feed appetite for jerky
* Perfect timing with hog, cattle herd recovery
* Selling points include high protein, less fat
* Brands already branching out beyond meat strips
* New offerings include kangaroo, earthworm jerky
By Theopolis Waters
CHICAGO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - With prices for U.S. livestock on the decline due to larger cattle and hog herds, meat processors are jumping on the jerky bandwagon.
In recent years, dried-meat snacks have gained popularity as Americans embrace diets packed with protein and less sugar and fat. Jerky has overcome its image as a highly salted pseudo-food found at gas stations and convenience stores.
Meat-snack makers have toned down the fat and salt and now tout the product's perceived health benefits, analysts said. "It's one of those things where people think it has a health halo around it," said Darren Seifer, analyst at market research firm NPD Group.
Purveyors of upscale jerky have gotten in on the act, including chocolate maker Hershey Co which acquired premium beef jerky maker Krave Pure Foods early last year. Continued...