Three years ago at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show in Chicago, the talk of the show in the meat and poultry arena was the launch of Schmacon, self-proclaimed as “Beef’s Answer to Bacon” by Howard Bender, CEO of Schmaltz Retail Products and his Naperville, Ill., team. Traffic to the small-ish Schmacon booth was heavy, the atmosphere quite festive, and the word on the street was mostly positive, bolstered by Schmacon winning a FABI (Food and Beverage Innovation) Award from the NRA that year.
Soon after, Schmacon began a national rollout plan, focused primarily on foodservice, but also including retail. Expansion of the product was methodical but steady, until early 2017, when a partnership with Certified Angus Beef LLC was formally announced with the launch of Certified Angus Beef-branded Uncured Beef Slices (Schmacon). The partnership has given Schmacon a big boost, and what follows are interviews with both partners: Bender of Schmaltz Retail Products, and Brett Erickson, director, Value-Added Products for the beef brand.