Neil

Howdy, Neil Dudley here! I wanted to take a minute to give every customer of Pederson’s our plant tour experience!  Unfortunately, it is likely not the most feasible dream (at least not at this minute, and I feel like writing)… so, for now, here is our step-by-step, virtual plant tour experience!

I figure since we are famous for bacon, that seems like the best place to start.  About a year ago, Cineflex came to our plant and created a great little video for the TV Show, Food Factory. These guys did a great job capturing the heart of our people and the process behind the bacon!  Take a look at the video and then read more about each step of the process below!

The first step is sourcing the highest quality raw material, raised by farmers who are verified by a third party audit to meet our company standards. We receive a 2000 pound combo of pork bellies from the farmer, each cut to a strict specification to ensure quality and consistency from belly to belly. Pictured here is, Cody Lane, my good friend and our fearless leader here at Pederson’s, moving one of these 2000 pound combos with a pallet jack.5880s
The Tumblers
We never inject our meat with anything. Instead, we use these tumblers to mix the seasonings into the meat. This part of the process plays a huge role in making the product taste so good. In my opinion, this is where the magic happens!
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Straight from the tumblers, bellies are hung on metal hangers called combs, and then are hung on racks. From there, they are wheeled in to smokers, where they are left to smoke for six hours. Most run of the mill, cured bacon is injected with curing solutions and liquid smoke to give it it’s flavor. Here at Pederson’s, bacon is only tumbled and smoked, and yet emerges with the best flavor.

Here I am inside one of our two, 4 truck (2000 lb.) smoke houses. We also have another 8 truck house and one single truck house. That all adds up to approximately 8500 lbs. of smoke house capacity!

Next, a slicer operator takes the pressed bellies and places them on a conveyer belt that feeds right into the machine that cuts the belly into bacon slices. Our equipment is specifically designed to weigh and place the bacon on an L-board. Here at Pederson’s we are SERIOUS about our quality control. Each slice is held to certain specs. Each package is held to certain specs.

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And, as the L-board makes it’s way down the line, there are folks along the way making sure each package is perfect… perfectly aligned and ready to be placed in the vacuum packaging machine. Caroline has been with Pederson’s for 12+ years, and she can tell if a package’s weight is off just by picking it up.  Let’s just say, she has picked up a LOT of bacon packages over the years.

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So, from here, the packages can go one of two places. If all specs are met, they are boxed and prepared for shipment. If the package has too little or too much bacon, or if some of the slices got in there a little wonky, the package is sent over to a couple ladies to “fix it”. These ladies open the package and add or remove bacon as needed, or straighten it out. They stack the second chance L-boards, and then send them back to be vacuum packed again.

There are an average of 16 packages of bacon per box, which equals about one pork belly. But, before the cases of bacon get sent out to a customer, they are passed through a metal detector. Passing the product through a metal detector before it ships out is a standard required by several customers, and we are happy to oblige.

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Temperature regulation is a big part of our process – each belly has to hit a very specific temperature in each step of our process to achieve our desired taste, consistency, etc.  From the smoker, the bellies are blast chilled to 35° to get the temperature down quickly. But, after that, they are temper chilled to 18° to prepare them for the next step in the process.

Bacon Tree

 

Now, from here, each belly has to temper to hold square shape out of the press, and it must be properly tempered for an ideal slice.  Over time, we have learned what temperature gives us the best results on our equipment, and know that each belly has to be tempered up from 18° to 20°.

tempered bacon

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The next step is to take those racks of seasoned, tumbled, smoked & chilled bellies, and wheel ’em on in to the packaging room. There, one of our press operators puts each belly, one by one, in to a machine that presses them to a specific shape, which will help with slicing, and packaging.

RetailerforhomepageThe cases of bacon are ordered by retailers and food service operators around the country through our office at which time an order is entered into our system.

There’s an order pick ticket printed for our shipping team so they know what items to pull to put on a pallet that will then get loaded into this refrigerated tractor trailer bound for our 3PL service provider.

 

275At that location the pallet is combined with other pallets that are destined for the same general location then loaded on another tractor trailer and driven to their final destination until the product eventually gets to the store shelf or the restaurant that hopefully you shop/dine at and it brings a smile to your face.