The fifth generation of Beelers believes in raising pigs the same way the first generation of Beelers raised them, making animal welfare a top priority.
Beeler’s strives to provide quality, natural, antibiotic-free, animal welfare friendly products – and in the case of its new Heluka line, all of that and non-GMO – to all of its customers. But most importantly, Beeler’s knew that it was all for nothing if the pork doesn’t eat well and taste good.
“Our philosophy was we can make all the label claims in the world, we can tell people it’s antibiotic free, we don’t use growth promotants, we don’t use gestation crates, but if the pork does not eat well, then the claims are of no value,” Beeler says.
To achieve the goal, Beeler’s worked with a geneticist on two important things: marbling to give the product good flavor and pH to keep the pork moist. Initially Beeler requested the geneticist give him the best marbling possible, but the geneticist informed him of the importance of pH for quality. The geneticist explained to Beeler that pH designates the moisture carrying capacity of the product, and while he could provide a very tender and flavorful pork, it could still be very dry without the proper pH. “So we focused on those two characteristics and have developed what we think to be a very superior eating pork product,” Beeler says.
Beeler looks to the foodservice side of the company for affirmation that the product lives up to standards set forth. Today, up to 70 percent of Beeler’s business goes to foodservice customers with the balance going to the retail side. The producer serves restaurants from very upscale, white table cloth-type establishments to those on the more economical side, Beeler says. “We cover the whole spectrum and the chefs tell us that our product is absolutely amazing.”
Beeler’s Pure Pork offers about 60-70 SKUs fresh. The company breaks those SKUs off of the pork butt, belly, rib, picnic, loin and ham. Customizing cuts and working hard to provide chefs with the specifics they want serves as a point of pride at Beeler’s.
“[There are] six basic cuts on the pig, but we take those cuts and we do all kinds of different unique things to come up with 60-70 different items out of those six cuts. So, whatever a chef asks for, it’s our goal to please them,” Beeler says. “Chefs request a lot of unique items, and our goal is to meet all of those requests. We’ve only said no twice.”
In addition, Beeler’s offers 52 different SKUs of bacon, 15 SKUs of ham and about 21 SKUs of hot dogs and sausages with a line of uncured bacon, ham and sausages. For foodservice though, the plate presentation of Frenched racks and French tomahawk racks are at the top of the list for sales.
This year, Beeler’s introduced a new line, Heluka Pork, to its existing natural and antibiotic-free line. Beeler’s has followed the trends through the times and the non-GMO Heluka line is the company’s natural progression. From natural and antibiotic-free, animal welfare friendly with no gestation or farrowing crates to non-GMO made sense to Beeler.
“The non-GMO issues surfaced and a lot of people were concerned about that, so we got into that. We decided to label that line our Heluka brand to give it kind of a unique name to create interest,” Beeler says. “That is the newest thing we’ve gotten into was feeding the non-GMO diets and that is really starting to take off now.”
Serving the niche market continues to fuel Beeler’s business throughout the country and the Heluka non-GMO line provides Beeler’s its latest offering to the growing, domestic market.
“We sell border to border, coast to coast and we do business in Hawaii, Alaska and Aruba. So we cover the country,” Beeler says. He adds that the business in Aruba came from a unique circumstance and not a plan to go international.
“If the right opportunity came along, yes. But my position has always been, the supply of our product is limited and we’re not big enough to go out and just fill everybody. There’s more business in the United States than we can take care of, so the focus is pretty much in the states,” Beeler says.
The Heluka product maintains the exact procedures and processes of the natural, antibiotic free product; it just adds a non-GMO diet.
“We will have the regular antibiotic-free, all-natural, and then we will have the Heluka, which is the same thing, but fed a non-GMO diet. They are raised the same way with the same genetics,” Beeler says.