Beef Bacon

Oct 11, 2023

I spent some time with the Hertzog Meat Company this week. During one of the conversations, I learned that beef bacon is a thing. Upon learning that I had never heard of it before, Mike threw some in the air fryer for me to try and it was fantastic! If you, like me, are learning about beef bacon for the first time, I would describe it as the result of brisket hooking up with bacon. There’s delicious hickory smoked top Choice natural beef flanking a fatty middle (necessary because beef is leaner than pork, so it adds moisture and flavor) with a little bit of a salty finish. It was fantastic on its own, but I learned they are incorporating it with some other offerings that will soon be rolled out through the Springfield Grocer Company Warehouse (SGC), and it’ll definitely be something I try in the future. After the conclusion of our meeting, I had a little more than a 3-hour drive and I just kept thinking about beef bacon. Not because it was delicious, but because it’s brilliant. When considering everything that goes into beef bacon the impact is bigger than at first glance, and it’s a great example of taking a new angle on what’s known to serve a greater market and it inspired this week’s thoughts. Let’s journey through the impact map.

The first level of impact is for the beef producer. After some research, I learned that beef bacon generally comes from a portion of the cow generally used for stews, roasts, or ground into hamburgers. This gives them another use for that portion of the same meat.

The next level of impact is for the processor. Entry-level impact would be to simply slice and package the product. I’d prefer to focus on a processor who elevates the product as a part of their impact like what I saw at Hertzog Meat Company. They sliced and packaged the product, but also applied expertise to develop flavors through smoke and seasoning that make it into a premium product further benefiting the beef producer.

The third level of impact is the ability of a marketer like SGC to capitalize on the market share available through a premium specialty product. Their marketing and distribution expertise enables the market share with the restaurants they supply to grow, facilitating greater demand that benefits the producer and the processor.

While there are more, the final level of impact we’ll explore is the restaurant. The restaurant utilizes reach and expertise to elevate beef bacon into a meal that becomes a favorite. They market it as leaner than pork and highlight that it’s all-natural. As its reputation grows the restaurant attracts new customers creating greater demand for the initial product. This again benefits every level before it. Producer – Processor – Marketer

In summary, beef bacon is the result of elevating a standard product by adding expertise at every level of the value chain, and every level of expertise elevates the value of the previous. Regardless of your position in the company or your task, you are a part of the value chain and every day each of us makes a decision (consciencely or not) to be the processor who simply slices and packages or be the processor who adds flavor. We previously tracked the value chain for beef bacon. Now let’s take a simple look at the value chain for harvested corn at Ag Partners Cooperative, Inc.

The first level of impact is the location team receiving the grain. They properly evaluate the condition of the grain, ensuring the proper specifications. This adds value by ensuring the stored product can be marketed at maximum value, creating a greater return for our member-owners.

The next level of impact comes from the grain marketing team. They ensure the position is managed to mitigate risk exposure. They add value by seeking market access points and negotiating trades to return additional value.

The third level of impact returns to the location team. They add value by managing the grain condition and working with the transportation team to ensure the trades are fulfilled as designated. They add value by extending the window for profitable execution by managing the product.

The final level of impact comes from our Globally Responsible Production (GRP) program. GRP and our partner CultivateCI create a farmer-focused sustainability platform that adds multiple levels of value including incentivizing great farming practices, connecting urban consumers with rural farmers, and increasing child nutrition through a school greenhouse initiative. One example of added value was the recent announcement of our partnership with Indigo and a company looking to lower their emissions that will add $0.15 per bushel to qualifying farmers. 

As with the bacon example, each level of the value chain benefits and adds value to the grower.

That leads me to this week’s challenge… don’t just slice and package – ADD VALUE! Take a moment to think about your role in the value chain. Decide to do what you do well and find a way to benefit others in the value chain. Add enough value and you become irreplaceable.