Business ideas
8 min read

How to Start a Profitable Beef Jerky Business [11 Steps]

Learn how to start a profitable beef jerky business with our 11+ step guide. From sourcing quality meat to marketing, we cover it all. Start your business today! #beefjerky #entrepreneur #smallbusiness

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 05, 2024

image of a beef jerky business
This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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1. Perform market analysis.

Starting a beef jerky business requires a thorough understanding of the market landscape to identify opportunities and challenges. In the first step of market analysis, it's crucial to gather data on consumer preferences, competitors, and industry trends to craft a strategic plan. Here's how to dive into this crucial phase:

  • Analyze the target demographic: Identify the age, income level, lifestyle, and eating habits of potential customers.
  • Study competitors: Research existing beef jerky businesses to understand their product offerings, pricing strategies, and marketing tactics.
  • Examine market trends: Look into current and emerging trends in the food industry, particularly those affecting snack foods and health-conscious options.
  • Assess market size and growth potential: Estimate the size of the beef jerky market and its potential for growth in the coming years.
  • Evaluate sales channels: Explore various sales channels such as online sales, retail partnerships, and direct-to-consumer options to determine the most viable avenues for your business.
  • Understand regulations: Familiarize yourself with food safety regulations and certifications needed to legally produce and sell beef jerky.
image of a beef jerky business

Are beef jerky businesses profitable?

Yes, beef jerky businesses can be profitable depending on the region, size of the business, and pricing strategy. Beef jerky has become increasingly popular in recent years, so there is potential for profit-making business owners. Additionally, beef jerky businesses can benefit from cost savings that come from purchasing large quantities of meat and engaging in effective marketing strategies.

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2. Draft a beef jerky business plan.

Starting a beef jerky business requires a well-thought-out plan to ensure that your operations are successful and sustainable. A comprehensive business plan outlines your business goals, strategies, and the steps you need to take to reach them. Here's a guide to help you draft a robust beef jerky business plan:

  • Define your business objectives and vision, including the scale of operations, target market, and unique selling proposition (USP).
  • Analyze the market to understand consumer preferences, competitors, and pricing strategies that will influence your product offerings.
  • Detail your product line, including flavors, packaging options, and any special dietary options (e.g., gluten-free, organic).
  • Establish your sourcing plan for high-quality beef and other ingredients while considering cost, consistency, and supply chain stability.
  • Develop a marketing and sales strategy, incorporating online sales, retail partnerships, and promotional activities to build brand awareness.
  • Outline your operational plan, covering production processes, quality control measures, and compliance with food safety regulations.
  • Create a financial plan with projections for startup costs, operating expenses, pricing strategy, revenue streams, and break-even analysis.
  • Consider regulatory requirements and obtain the necessary licenses, permits, and insurance to legally produce and sell beef jerky.

How does a beef jerky business make money?

Beef jerky businesses make money by packaging and selling their dried meat products. They can raise their profits by targeting specific audiences, such as athletic millennials or health-conscious retirees. For example, an air duct cleaning business could target families with young children or recently built homes in order to attract more clients. By marketing their services to customers in need of specific services, the air duct cleaning business can increase their profits while also providing a valuable service to their community.

3. Develop a beef jerky brand.

Building a beef jerky brand is an exciting step in launching your business. It's about differentiating your product in the market and connecting with customers. Here are key points to consider when developing your brand:

  • Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Determine what makes your beef jerky stand out. Is it the unique flavors, the quality of the meat, or a family recipe? Your USP will be the cornerstone of your brand.
  • Define Your Target Audience: Understand who your customers are. Are they fitness enthusiasts, hikers, or gourmet snack lovers? Tailoring your brand to your audience will help you reach the right consumers.
  • Create a Memorable Brand Name and Logo: Choose a name and design a logo that reflects your brand's personality and is easily recognizable. This will be a visual representation of your brand, so make it count.
  • Develop a Brand Story: People love stories. Craft a compelling narrative about why you started making beef jerky, the origins of your recipes, or your commitment to quality. It will help build an emotional connection with customers.
  • Consistency is Key: Ensure that all your packaging, marketing materials, and online presence reflect your brand's image and message consistently to build trust and recognition.

How to come up with a name for your beef jerky business?

Choosing a name for your beef jerky business can be a daunting task. However, there are several ways to come up with an appropriate and unique name. Firstly, brainstorm words that you associate with your product. Consider adjectives, nouns, locations or even alliterations that connect to the product. Secondly, create a list of possible names from the words you brainstormed. Thirdly, research online to make sure no one else uses the same name for their business or product. Finally, pick the name that resonates with you and your business the most.

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4. Formalize your business registration.

To establish a legitimate beef jerky business, it's essential to navigate through the formalities of business registration. This step will ensure your operations are legal and set up to comply with all regulations. Here's a guide on how to proceed:

  • Choose a business structure that suits your needs, such as an LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, and understand the tax and liability implications of each.
  • Register your business name with the appropriate state authority; this could be the Secretary of State or a similar agency, depending on your location.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for tax purposes, especially if you plan on hiring employees.
  • Apply for any necessary licenses and permits specific to food businesses and meat processing, which may vary by state and local government.
  • Register for state and local taxes to ensure you are set up to collect sales tax if it's applicable to your product.
  • Ensure to understand and comply with the FDA's regulations regarding food production and labeling, as well as any state-specific health and safety standards.

Resources to help get you started:

Explore invaluable resources designed for beef jerky entrepreneurs that provide insights into market trends, operational best practices, and strategic growth advice:

  • Meat Science Journal: Offers comprehensive research articles and reviews on meat, including beef jerky, focusing on quality, safety, and nutritional aspects. -
  • Snack Food Association (SNAC International): Provides resources on the latest industry trends, regulatory updates, and networking opportunities for snack food producers, including beef jerky manufacturers. -
  • Specialty Food Association: Offers education, insights, and resources tailored to entrepreneurs in the specialty food sector, like artisan beef jerky producers, with market data and growth strategies. -
  • Jerky Report: An online publication focusing on the latest trends, news, and analysis in the jerky industry, from market developments to consumer preferences. -
  • Entrepreneur Magazine: While not jerky-specific, it provides valuable advice on starting and growing a business, including case studies and articles on product-based businesses. -

5. Acquire necessary licenses and permits for beef jerky.

Starting a beef jerky business involves understanding and complying with various regulations to ensure food safety and legality. Different licenses and permits may be required depending on your location and the scale of your operation. Here's a list of common licenses and permits you might need:

  • Business License: Register your business with your city or county, and obtain a general business license to operate legally.
  • Food Processor Permit: Since beef jerky is a processed food, you'll likely need a permit from your state's department of health or agriculture.
  • USDA Approval: If you plan to sell across state lines, you may need inspection and approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • Health Department Permit: Check with your local health department for any additional permits related to food handling and safety.
  • Sales Tax License: Register for a sales tax license to collect and remit sales tax on your products.
  • Zoning Permits: Ensure your production facility complies with local zoning laws, which may require a specific permit.

Remember, each state and locality has its own set of rules, so be sure to research the specific requirements for your area.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a beef jerky business?

The type of licenses and permits needed to run a beef jerky business will depend on the state and local regulations where the business is located. Generally, you will need to obtain a business license, food establishment license, and food handler's permit. You may also need a state sales tax license and any other applicable local permits. Finally, depending on your business structure, you may need to obtain additional professional licenses or permits.

6. Open a business bank account and secure funding as needed.

Starting a beef jerky business requires careful financial planning. One of the key steps is to open a business bank account which will help keep personal and business finances separate. Additionally, securing adequate funding is crucial for covering startup costs, production, and marketing. Here are some pointers to guide you through this process:

  • Research banks and credit unions that offer business banking services. Look for accounts with low fees, easy access to funds, and good customer support.
  • Prepare the necessary documentation to open a business bank account, which may include your business license, EIN, incorporation papers, and ownership agreements.
  • Consider your funding needs and explore various options such as small business loans, lines of credit, investors, or crowdfunding platforms.
  • Develop a solid business plan with financial projections to present to potential lenders or investors to demonstrate the viability of your beef jerky business.
  • Understand the terms and conditions of any funding you accept, including repayment schedules, interest rates, and any potential equity you might be giving up.
  • Keep meticulous records of all financial transactions and use accounting software to manage your finances effectively.

7. Set pricing for beef jerky services.

When setting prices for your beef jerky services, you'll want to consider several key factors to ensure profitability while remaining competitive. Here's a concise guide to help you determine the right pricing strategy:

  • Cost Analysis: Calculate the total cost of production, including raw materials, packaging, labor, and overhead expenses. Set a price that covers these costs and allows for a reasonable profit margin.
  • Market Research: Study your competitors' pricing and position your product accordingly. If your beef jerky offers unique features, such as organic ingredients, you can command a higher price.
  • Value Perception: Price your beef jerky based on perceived value. If your brand is positioned as a premium product, your pricing should reflect that quality.
  • Volume Discounts: Consider offering discounts for bulk purchases to attract larger orders while maintaining a healthy profit margin.
  • Seasonal or Promotional Pricing: Implement seasonal discounts or promotions to boost sales during slow periods or to introduce new flavors.
  • Customer Feedback: Listen to customer feedback regarding pricing and adjust if necessary to meet market demands without compromising your brand's value.

What does it cost to start a beef jerky business?

Initiating a beef jerky business can involve substantial financial commitment, the scale of which is significantly influenced by factors such as geographical location, market dynamics, and operational expenses, among others. Nonetheless, our extensive research and hands-on experience have revealed an estimated starting cost of approximately $14000 for launching such an business. Please note, not all of these costs may be necessary to start up your beef jerky business.

8. Acquire beef jerky equipment and supplies.

Starting a beef jerky business requires careful selection of equipment and supplies to ensure a high-quality product. The right tools will help you maintain consistency, adhere to safety standards, and scale your operations efficiently. Consider the following essentials for your beef jerky venture:

  • Dehydrators or Smokers: Choose commercial-grade dehydrators or smokers capable of handling large batches, with precise temperature control.
  • Slicing Equipment: Obtain a meat slicer for consistent thickness or opt for pre-sliced meat from a supplier.
  • Marinating Supplies: Get mixing bowls, marinating containers, or vacuum tumblers to evenly coat your beef slices with the marinade.
  • Seasonings and Marinades: Stock up on high-quality spices, herbs, and sauces to create your unique jerky flavors.
  • Packaging Materials: Invest in vacuum sealers, pouches, or bags that are food-safe and provide proper sealing to ensure freshness.
  • Labeling Machine: A labeling machine for branding and nutritional information is crucial for marketing and compliance with food labeling regulations.
  • Refrigeration: Ensure you have adequate refrigeration for storing raw materials and finished products safely.
  • Sanitation Supplies: Maintain cleanliness with food-grade sanitizers, gloves, and surface cleaning equipment to meet health standards.

List of software, tools and supplies needed to start a beef jerky business:

  • Beef – $4.00/lb
  • Dry Rub – $5/packet
  • Vacuum Sealer – $90
  • Work Tables - $50
  • Oven/Smoker – $350
  • Digital Scale - $20
  • Gloves, Hairnets, and Aprons – $15/set
  • Curing Salts – $7/pound
  • Packaging Supplies – $20
  • Labeling Machine – $200

9. Obtain business insurance for beef jerky, if required.

Securing the right business insurance is a crucial step in safeguarding your beef jerky business against potential risks and liabilities. It not only protects your investment but also provides peace of mind as you operate on a daily basis. Below are key types of insurance you should consider:

  • General Liability Insurance: This is essential for protecting against lawsuits related to injuries or accidents that could occur due to your product or business operations.
  • Product Liability Insurance: Specifically important for food businesses, this insurance covers claims related to illnesses or injuries caused by your beef jerky.
  • Commercial Property Insurance: If you own or lease a facility for producing or storing your beef jerky, this insurance helps cover the property in case of damage or loss due to events like fire or theft.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: This helps compensate for lost income if your business has to temporarily cease operations due to a covered disaster.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: If you have employees, this insurance is typically mandatory and covers medical costs and lost wages for work-related injuries or illnesses.

10. Begin marketing your beef jerky services.

Once your beef jerky business is up and running, it's crucial to attract customers and create a loyal following. Marketing your products effectively will be key to your success. Here's how to get started:

  • Develop a strong brand identity: Create a memorable logo and packaging that reflect the quality and uniqueness of your beef jerky.
  • Build an online presence: Launch a professional website and engage with customers on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Utilize local markets: Attend local farmers' markets, craft fairs, and food expos to showcase your products and connect with the community.
  • Offer samples: Let potential customers taste your beef jerky to experience its quality and flavor firsthand.
  • Create partnerships: Work with local stores, gyms, and bars to offer your products, and consider collaboration with other local businesses for cross-promotion.
  • Invest in advertising: Use both online and offline advertising channels to reach a wider audience. Consider pay-per-click ads, local newspapers, and food blogs.
  • Leverage customer reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews online and use their testimonials in your marketing materials.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a beef jerky business?

  • Beef – $4.00/lb
  • Dry Rub – $5/packet
  • Vacuum Sealer – $90
  • Work Tables - $50
  • Oven/Smoker – $350
  • Digital Scale - $20
  • Gloves, Hairnets, and Aprons – $15/set
  • Curing Salts – $7/pound
  • Packaging Supplies – $20
  • Labeling Machine – $200

11. Expand your beef jerky business.

Once your beef jerky business is up and running and you've established a loyal customer base, it's time to think about expansion. Growing your business can take many forms, from increasing production capacity to entering new markets. Here are some strategic steps you can take to ensure your expansion efforts are a success:

  • Explore new flavors and products: Diversify your product line to cater to varying tastes and dietary preferences.
  • Invest in marketing: Boost your online presence, engage in social media advertising, and consider influencer partnerships to reach a broader audience.
  • Scale up production: Assess the need for larger facilities or more advanced equipment to increase your production volume.
  • Partner with retailers: Get your beef jerky on the shelves of local grocery stores, specialty shops, and even national retailers.
  • Expand geographically: Start selling your products in new regions or even internationally, adapting your marketing and flavors to local tastes.
  • Attend food expos: Showcase your products at trade shows and expos to network with industry professionals and attract wholesale buyers.
  • Consider e-commerce: If you haven't already, set up an online store to make it easy for customers to purchase your products from anywhere.