Biting at the bits

by Joel Crews
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Pederson's Natural Farms plans to enter the pre-cooked bacon and bacon bits segments.
Pederson's Natural Farms plans to enter the pre-cooked bacon and bacon bits segments.

Officials at Pederson’s Natural Farms, based in Hamilton, Texas, are ringing in 2016 with new equipment and entering a new product category to remain competitive in the iconic bacon segment. Already producing about 100,000 lbs. of raw bacon per week for retail and foodservice customers, company President Cody Lane and Vice President Neil Dudley are finalizing plans and making some renovation tweaks in its 34,000-sq.-ft. plant to accommodate the production of pre-cooked bacon and bacon bits.

The company, which has historically been a processor of ham, sausage and bacon, has seen demand for its naturally cured bacon spike, an uptick that started about 10 years ago and now it dominates the product mix.

“Today, bacon is 85 percent or maybe more of our business,” said Lane during a recent tour of the company’s facility. With two lines operating on a single shift, five days per week, Lane and Dudley have been developing a strategy for their next big product introduction. At the end of 2015, the executive team was gearing up for a significant commitment of resources to begin processing pre-cooked bacon and bacon bits at its plant.

Scott Cooney, vice president of operations, Pederson's Natural Farms
Scott Cooney, vice president of operations at Pederson's predicts growth in current and new customer sales.

The company’s operations team, led by Scott Cooney, vice president of operations, is renovating a portion of the facility to make room for a new spiral oven from Unitherm, which is scheduled for delivery in late February and the goal is to have everything operational by April. Dudley says the demand for pre-cooked products is strong and will bolster the company’s already-robust growth.

“I expect the new equipment to generate current customer and new customer sales growth the day we turn it on,” he said.

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