Daily’s roots date back to 1893 when John R. Daily and his business partner opened a retail meat shop, the Union Market, in the heart of Missoula.
“It started as a small butcher shop up there on Main Street,” Cowins said, and Daily’s Premium Meats evolved from there. The company still maintains a plant in Missoula, which was built in 1963. “At that time it was a slaughtering facility,” Cowins said. “They’d slaughter everything from sheep to deer and goats, buffalo and beef, pigs and anything anyone wanted to bring in for processing.”
In the 1980s, the company turned its focus to bacon only. In the next decade, Daily’s bought a bankrupt sausage plant in Salt Lake City and converted that facility to a bacon processing plant. Until this year, that facility processed all raw and precooked products while the Missoula operation focused on raw production only.
The addition of the St. Joseph facility will more than double Daily’s raw capacity. As demand for bacon continues to grow, Cowins said, plans for an expansion are underway. With raw production the focus of the new operation initially, the expansion would likely add pre-cooked bacon to the mix.
All of Daily’s bacon is hardwood smoked, and the uncompromising focus on the quality of the bacon speaks for itself, Cowins said. “It’s right there in our name,” he said, “we are Daily’s Premium Meats.”
Part of the attention to quality goes back to the raw materials, including the fact that all of Daily’s bacon is made from zero-scribe bellies that are never frozen. Another differentiating factor is the company’s made-to-order production.
“We have zero raw bacon inventory in stock that we pull from,” Cowins said.
Orders are taken up until noon for the next day’s shipments.
“I couldn’t tell you today if I’m going to be slicing 3,000 cases of bacon [tomorrow] or if I’m going to be slicing 12,000 cases,” he said, which creates production challenges, but ensures customers get the freshest product possible and pass that freshness on after they receive the products.
“We’d rather our customers not put our product in the freezer before they serve it to their customers.”
While the company’s sales have historically been focused on the foodservice segment on the West Coast and in the Northwest, the addition of the St. Joseph plant allows the company to reach new territories it previously couldn’t logistically service. For example, sales territories in the Great Lakes region were slated to open in July and as of August, new customers in the Southeast will be offered Daily’s products. Prior to the new plant coming online, 95 percent of Daily’s sales were to foodservice customers. But with increased capacity and plans for even more growth, retail sales under the Daily’s name is part of the strategy in the future.
“It’s an exciting time for us as an organization to introduce our product into markets that, in many cases, don’t yet know who we are,” Cowins said.