Supplying further processors, pre-made sandwich making and production of protein-based salads make up a little more than half of Deli Star’s business at 55 percent. Foodservice or national chains/QSRs constitute 40 percent of its sales, with the remaining 5 percent being the retail business of AmVac and Zia’s Italian Entrees. At one time, the company’s business consisted of 80 percent further processing and 20 percent retail.
Deli Star executives wanted to use its scientific and technical processes to capitalize on the national chain and QSR segment. Over the years the company has significantly grown its national chain business and cut the retail down to only the St. Louis-based Zia’s Italian Entrees while continuing to maintain strong relationships with its further processors.
The company now offers 85 total SKUs. Fifty-five of them consist of industrially packed slicing logs, protein salads, fillings and toppings. The 25 foodservice SKUs consist of packed turkey breast, ham and slow-cooked/pulled meats with the remaining five including retail packed Zia’s Italian Entrees and AmVac fresh beef and pork cuts.
Piece size-reducing dicers, slicers, slitters, grinders, vacuum mixers and stuffers are used to achieve perfect muscle structure when processing turkey, pork, chicken and beef. Other key pieces of equipment and machines in the Deli Star line up include horizontal and vertical form-fill machines and an AmVac case-ready skin packing machine. Deli Star’s chicken processing has seen the strongest growth recently due to its advances in protein salads and chicken’s lower cost.
To prevent mold growth and to help slicing customers prevent Listeria growth, Deli Star utilizes food contact approved quaternary ammonia sprayed on casing and in tails. This in tandem with pH-lowering ingredients, vacuum packaging and a proprietary steam post-pasteurization process (SPP) increase the safety of products, as well as extending the shelf life.
For Deli Star’s SPP, different cooking temperatures and times are based on a product’s pH and water activity. The specific data is then used to achieve a 7-log kill of all foodborne pathogens. The process is monitored to ensure product compatibility and many products have been designed to work within the process and be marketable.
Chef’s Edge (formerly the Carver line) utilizes sous vide technology and delivers a 150-day refrigerated shelf life from the SPP. The line includes applewood smoked ham, all-natural applewood smoked ham, applewood smoked honey ham, golden turkey breast, smoked turkey breast, rotisserie-style chicken breast and all-natural rotisserie-style chicken breast in various sizes. Applewood smoked ham, applewood smoked honey ham, golden turkey breast and smoked turkey breast come whole or sliced. Precooked logs for foodservice come four per case at 10 lbs. and combo boxes for industrial are 20-25 lbs. The plant produces 300,000 lbs. per week, with 45,000 lbs. for salads and 45,000 lbs. for its foodservice customers.
The company’s upscale Gaucho Premium Slow-Cooked Meat line is slow roasted, cooked overnight and contains no added water, sauce, binders or extenders. The overnight cooking takes place under vacuum for tenderization and ease when shredding or pulling.
The process behind the Gaucho line came from an idea to give customers high-quality and great flavor. Because the meat will need to be heated by end-users, Deli Star leaves the juice in for flavor, and the user can then hand pull the meat to their own liking. This creates a cost savings that is passed on to customers.
The Gaucho line flavor options include slow-roasted pulled pork, applewood smoked pork belly, pork carnitas, Italian sausage marinara, BBQ pulled pork, slow roasted chicken, slow roasted chicken marsala, slow roasted chicken etouffee, home-style beef meatloaf, Angus beef meatloaf, slow cooked beef, slow cooked Italian beef, beef pot roast, beef barbacoa and Korean beef short rib.