When it comes to flavors, Americans like them hot — but they’ll always be stuck on their traditional favorites, too.
This is certainly the case when it comes to jerky. Across the nation, convenience store operators report that hot and spicy flavors are generating much of the excitement, but traditional jerky flavor shows no sign of disappearing.
A survey of industry executives is illustrative:
Howard Magee, director of fuel management, operations and category management for The Carioca Co. in Phoenix, which owns and operates convenience stores throughout Arizona, said hot is hot at his convenience stores.
“Hot, hot flavors like Habanero and Ghost Pepper account for 25% of sales,” he said. Carioca’s sales run across multiple varieties and brands, Magee pointed out. “With supply problems I have expanded the brands to approximately 10 vendors to ensure a supply of jerky.”
“Original, Teriyaki and Peppered still run the category for beef jerky,” said Peter Kempton Jr., category manager, center store for TravelCenters of America.
“The most popular flavors of jerky at Army & Air Force Exchange Service Express stores are Teriyaki and Hot & Spicy,” according to AAFES service buyer III Randal Demster.
Brandon Daniels, spokesman for Giant Eagle, said that the original or traditional flavor is still the company’s bestselling. “Others are gaining in popularity, but the original flavor is unsurpassed,” he noted.
“Teriyaki, Original, Hot, Peppered,” said Matthew Shelton, president of Food Pro Distributing Inc. in Las Vegas, when asked about best-selling flavors.
“According to our jerky vendor, who also produces his own private line, here is the ranking from top to bottom,” said Rich Abel, director of stores at Fastrip Food Stores. “Teriyaki, Pepper, Sweet and Spicy, Original, Hot, Honey, Honey Pepper, Hot Teriyaki, Jalapeño Lime, BBQ, Ghost Pepper and Garlic.”
Taste preferences can also change seasonally.
Brad Ayers, supervisor at Ayers Oil Co. in Canton, Mo., said Jack Link’s is one of his top-selling jerky lines. In the run-up to summer — barbecue season — Jack Link’s is promoting the barbecue flavor of its White Meat Chicken Tender Bites. Ayers Oil’s other leading jerky brand, Old Trapper, puts its Old Fashioned beer jerky flavor up front, backed by Teriyaki, Pepperoni and “The Hot One.”