Beef jerky has become a surprise winner in Australia's growing obsession with snack foods.
More than half of all Australian adults now admit to snacking much more than they used to - most blaming pandemic lockdowns.
But tired of 'unhealthy' chips and lollies they have turned to healthier options and have become hooked on low-fat protein-packed jerky.
Once only the darling of roadside stalls or farmers' markets, Australia's love affair with dried meat has seen jerky push aside the competitors in the major supermarkets.
Many people have even turned to using their ovens at home to cook up their own jerky, or even air drying their slice meat.
YouTube videos on how to make jerky at home have had millions of views.
One of our biggest national brands is Nobby's, better known for nuts than meat, but it has been riding the jerky wave as well.
Nobby's, owned by Smith's Snackfood Company and ultimately the Pepsi company in the US, says the meat snacks category in Australia is worth $68 million and is growing at an impressive 34 per cent each year.
The meat snacks "segment" includes pork snacks as well, like crackle, although jerky makes up over half sales.
Despite jerky claiming the bulk of the share, it is pork snacks which have boomed as well, with sales growing by more than half, according again to Nobby's.
"This has been driven by an increase in pork crackle products as well as the recent launch of Nobby's Bacon Bites which have been hugely successful," the company said.
Most of Nobby's jerky products are sourced from New Zealand.
Shoppers are chomping down on healthier snack foods with high nutritional value like muesli bars, protein bars, and dried fruit and nuts.
"Jerky was extremely niche but we have seen a fast growing acceptance of its health values," Emily Pullen of Jim's Jerky in Queensland said.
Ms Pullen is the chief executive of the family based meat snack business from Toowoomba who said some of the newest fans might surprise some.
Women, young women in particular, are buying more and more jerky for their protein fix and turning aside from protein powders.
Jim's Jerky supplies 300 outlets with a booming online business.
"We have seen a much greater understanding over the past five years on what jerky is," Ms Pullen said.
"I think Australians are just catching on."
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