KENT, Wash. -- Sales of beef jerky and other meat snacks are up by nearly 13% in the last year, according to Consumer Reports, which has reviewed various kinds of "beef to go." The consumer watchdog magazine checked out more than a dozen beef jerky and meat sticks.
"Meat sticks have more fat, more calories and more saturated fat than beef jerky. Beef jerky is made from lean cuts of meat, and they're cooked over low heat for a long period of time. So the end product comes out really very low in fat," said Consumer Reports' Adam Kaplan.
As for taste, three beef jerkies rated best, according to the report: Oh Boy! Oberto Original, Pacific Gold Original and Market Pantry Original from Target.
Oberto's is "spicy, with well-blended smoke, brown sugar, garlic and fruit flavors," the reviewers said. Pacific Gold is "sweeter than most and has a distinct black-pepper flavor." Market Pantry "has fairly complex and intense flavors, though ... testers found the taste varies slightly from piece to piece."
Reviewers compared the lowest-rated brands to a "splintered popsicle stick. ... [or] are too soft and have an organ-meat or metallic note."
Beef jerky and other meat snacks are reaching audiences beyond convenience stores fueled by big ad campaigns, said the report, and upscale retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's now offer it.
Family owned Oberto Brands, a leader in the meat snacks category, was established in Seattle in 1918 by an Italian immigrant family in pursuit of the American Dream. The Oberto family still remains an integral part of the Kent, Wash.-based business. Its products are found primarily in convenience stores, as well as on grocery aisles and club stores throughout the United States.