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Agricultural News

Checkoff Helps Bring Beef's Answer to Bacon to Market

Tue, 18 Mar 2014 11:44:59 CDT

Checkoff Helps Bring Beef's Answer to Bacon to Market
Global food industry leaders recently pronounced Schmacon™ smoked and cured glazed beef slices, an award recipient of the prestigious 2014 Food and Beverage Innovations Award (FABI) presented by the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

Schmacon, one of the latest checkoff-funded Beef Innovations Group projects, looks and smells as tantalizing as bacon; crisps up like bacon; cooks like bacon (in only a fraction of the time); and fully satisfies with delicious all-beef flavor, but is a much healthier alternative. A serving of Schmacon contains 30 calories, 2 g fat, and 60 mg sodium, whereas a serving of pork bacon averages 60-90 calories, 4.5-7 g fat, and 190-360 mg sodium.

As a 2014 FABI Award recipient, Schmacon is heralded as a product with "bold imagination" and "great potential to help operators capitalize on consumer trends and drive operator success." The whole muscle beef slices use a patent-pending process and a proprietary spice blend to deliver a smoky, slightly sweet flavor. They are pre-cooked and ready for crisping in an oven, microwave or on a flat-top griddle. As a revolutionary new menu item, Schmacon helps operators deliver flavorful, innovative, signature items for breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, salads and beyond.

"As a payer of the checkoff, it's been exciting to have been involved in new products for several years," said Jennifer Houston, cattle producer and auction market owner from Sweetwater, Tenn. "Things take a while to come to fruition, and they don't all pan out, but we've had some great wins -- like 'the seven-year overnight sensation' a.k.a the flat iron -- and for me it's exciting to see something else come to market besides the steaks and roasts we love.

"The new audience of millennials and, for that matter, all consumers, want choices," Houston continued. "They want different taste sensations, spices, ethnic food, dish sizes and as an industry we need to stay fresh and innovative."

"Schmacon is beef's answer to bacon," said Howard Bender, the Hyde Park Culinary Institute of America chef and Chicago deli owner who created the product. "It opens up so many opportunities for those who love traditional bacon, but for one reason or another, limit intake or avoid it altogether. We've been testing the product for months in our deli -- serving it on sandwiches, as a topping for soups and hot dishes and, of course, alongside our breakfast entrees," Bender said. "Our customers are crazy about the flavor, and we're excited FABI judges agree that Schmacon is primed to be a big hit."

Bender spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays about the product he was developing last year at the Cattle Industry Convention. You can hear their conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.

Schmacon fits into healthy lifestyle trends and also meets dietary needs of those religious or ethnic groups prohibited from eating pork products. It also fits broadly into emerging, diverse restaurant trends, concepts and day-parts.

"Schmacon enables restaurant patrons to customize their meals in a very easy way," said Bender. "Restaurants can offer a more personalized experience, such as an upgrade to beef or a healthier, great-tasting option that adds flavor and crunch to current food trends."

Schmacon also adds value to the beef carcass by utilizing a large portion of meat near the plate that is often ground for 50-percent trimmings, Bender said.

"We take a very big block and go through our process so that we're going to have Schmacon bits and other things and, all of a sudden, it takes the product and makes trim into a very high value-added beef product."

Houston said the product fits well with checkoff goals: "Two of the key demand drivers the checkoff committee looks at are convenience and nutrition. This product meets both of those criteria for fitting in to people's lifestyles and nutrition needs. People don't expect beef at breakfast unless it's steak and eggs, and now they have another great option."

There is opportunity whether in a grab-and-go breakfast sandwich at quick service restaurants; as "Schmacon and eggs" at breakfast establishments; or at casual family restaurants, capitalizing on the "breakfast for dinner" or innovative burger crazes. With the growing popularity of upscale Middle Eastern and fusion menu items inspired from places like Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Iraq and Iran, Schmacon or "Steakon" can bring differentiating flavor, texture and creativity to chefs' creations.

"The beef checkoff immediately recognized the potential in Schmacon to be a successful new beef product in the breakfast daypart," says Bender. "They have aided us throughout our development and launch process, providing credibility and exposure at a critical time. Beef checkoff support is helping tremendously, both in the foodservice and retail channels."

Schmacon is now available commercially, and participants in the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, May 17 - 20 will have the opportunity to sample it. It will be sold into the retail market by the end of the year.

Ron Hays talks with Howard Bender, the inventor of Schmacon--coming to a store near you.

right-click to download mp3    

Ron Hays talks with Howard Bender, the inventor of Schmacon--coming to a store near you.
right-click to download mp3


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