Demands and needs that have marked the history of the dried meat industry in Brazil since the 16th century have changed over time, requiring suitability of the production process and product variations to meet consumption requirements.
Originally, due to higher supply compared to the demand, the production avoided product waste. Then, the need for protein intake of workers in sugarcane crops started to boost dried meat production. Later on, the production of dried meat developed in the cultural scope, mainly to attend groups and/or more specific regions in Brazil, especially the South and Northeast.
More recently, dried meat started to involve new regions and attend a differentiated public, driven by convenience and consciousness to consume foods that are not harmful to health.
Considered a leading product in the evolution of dried meat produced industrially, and with major growth potential, jerked beef incorporates the cultural background of dried meat consumption in Brazil and issues related to processed food. These factors mean great challenges for this industry.
There are no official data about dried meat consumption in Brazil; however, charque (a type of dried meat) is estimated to be one of the most consumed industrialized meat products in the country. The valuation in the Brazilian cuisine and the use by chefs have pushed up consumption of industrialized dried meat, no longer exclusively regionalized. A distinct consumption is still evident in each region, as jerked beef is mostly consumed in Southeastern Brazil.
Nevertheless, the current demand reflects more and more the option for foods with standard characteristics and established quality. Similar to fresh meat, tenderness is a positive aspect for jerked beef. Improvements in this aspect may increase acceptance of consumers of typical products.
In general, jerked beef seems to meet current demand requirements, becoming attractive to consumers in regions where dried meat consumption habits is more recent (Southeastern Brazil) compared to others where its consumption has already consolidated (South and Northeast). Jerked beef is a new product for consumers who do not enjoy eating dried meat, poiting to potential increase of the market share. The fact that jerked beef does not need cold storage is another positive point for the product, as it reduces costs with electricity and other expenses required for cold storage.
Despite its great potential as an animal protein source, the important position in the market and its relevant socioeconomic role, jerked beef has little significance in the market considering its potential. There is much to explore in both national and international markets.
Marketing actions to spread information on jerked beef may favor the exploration of the potential of the product both in Brazil and worldwide.