A Butchery Shoppe in Spring Valley, Wis., produces over 200 of its own meat products, but it is the bacon aroma that's carrying its mark of success wafting far beyond their small community of 1,200 people.
Kevin Olson, production manager for A Butchery Shoppe (the "A" in the company's name is an homage to Olson's mother Audrey), said he followed his father's bacon lessons as a youngster at their former family-owned locker plant in Spring Valley in the late 1980's. But over the years developed his own recipe to find the right balance of salt and sugar to formulate a no-added nitrite bacon that has captured both state and national awards in cured meat competitions.
Using a one-truck smokehouse and hardwood hickory chips, the small independent processing company turns out an astounding 4,000 to 6,000 lbs of bacon weekly, about 60% of which goes to wholesale and foodservice accounts.
The rustic retail shop has turned to local maple syrup to flavor its uncured bacon. Its sugar-free bacon contains no maple syrup. They also offer a pepper, three pepper and Southwest style bacon, in addition to cottage and beef bacon.
"We've gone to selling our bacon in 12-oz packages," Olson said. "It allows us to get maximum efficiency out of our Rollstock machine by packing them five portions across. I would say it doubled our packing efficiency."
He firmly believes in avoiding MSG, fillers and allergens to achieve a clean label for his products. Olson uses celery powder instead of sodium nitrite in his bacon.
"I prefer to use larger, squared-off pork bellies and like work with thicker slices, although we will slice them thin for customers who like it that way," he added.
He's been working with two partners who have a distributorship in Florida and his federal inspection program allows the company to ship across the United States. Olson indicated he is likely to resurrect some other bacon flavor profiles he discontinued in years past. He is also considering bringing back his recipe for bacon jerky, an item that he sold in bulk from the deli in his retail store.
The new shop, which he and his wife Fadra Greene opened in October 2017, allows more room for bringing back popular bacon flavors of yesteryear, but were difficult to produce in very small production runs. They recently added 2,000 square feet of freezer and cooling space that has allowed them to increase the size of their production runs and offer greater variety.
And, if they go national by working with other distributors, they just might be in the market for something larger in the smokehouse department.