The most prestigious cured meats competition in the country saw entrants from 80 meat processing plants from across the country submit their best bacon, hams, jerky and other cured meats. All total, there were almost 750 products entered at the 2016 Cured Meats Championships, held during the American Association of Meat Processors’ annual convention in Omaha, Neb. in July.

As per usual at the ACMC, the competition was tough, as many of the products had won award in state competitions. All in all, 42 of the  companies that entered products placed in the Top 5 of a category.

The Grand Champions for the 2016 American Cured Meat Championships were:

A series of behind-the-scenes videos recorded at the American Cured Meats Championships.

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An image gallery from this year’s event and of some of the award-winning products.

  • Andouille Sausage: Sixth Street Market, Ashland, Wis.
  • Bacon (Heavyweight): Ralph’s Packing Co.: Perkins, Okla.
  • Bacon (Lightweight): Newhall Locker & Processing, Newhall, Iowa
  • Braunschweiger: McDonald’s Meats Inc., Clear Lake, Minn.
  • Country Bacon (Dry-Cured): Eickman’s Processing Co., Seward, Ill.
  • Cured Specialty Meat Products: Sailer’s Food Market & Meat Processing, Elmwood, Wis.
  • Dried Beef: Dewig Meats, Haubstadt, Ind.
  • Frankfurters/Weiners (Coarse Ground): Schmidts’ Meat Market Inc., Nicollet, Minn.
  • Frankfurters/Weiners (Emulsified) Dewig Meats
  • Ham – Bone-In (Heavyweight): Tiefenthaler Quality Meats, Holstein, Iowa
  • Ham – Bone-In (Lightweight) Tiefenthaler Quality Meats
  • Ham – Boneless (Commercial): Frank Stoysich Meats, Omaha, Neb.
  • Ham – Boneless (Traditional): Frank Stoysich Meats
  • Ham – Semi-Boneless: Tiefenthaler Quality Meats
  • Jerky – Restructured: Newhall Locker & Processing
  • Jerky – Whole Muscle: Frank Stoysich Meats
  • Luncheon Meat – Large Diameter: Hermann Wurst Haus, Hermann, Mo.
  • Meat Snack Sticks: McDonald’s Meats
  • Meat Snack Sticks – Flavored: Y-T Packing, Springfield, Ill.
  • Ring Bologna – Cooked: Country Fresh Meats Inc, Weston, Wis.
  • Semi-Dried Sausage (Cooked, Non-Fermented): Paradise Locker Meats, Trimble, Mo.
  • Small Diameter Smoked & Cooked Sausage: Schmidts’ Meat Market Inc.
  • Smoked Turkey: Tiefenthaler 
Quality Meats
  • Specialty Flavor Small Diameter Smoked/Cooked Sausage: Leiding’s Meats & Catering, Danville, Ill.
  • Specialty Game Meats: Ralph’s Packing Co.
  • Summer Sausage – Cooked: Dewig Meats
  • Beef Smoked Dinner Sausage (2016 Featured Class): Lockwood Packing Co., Lockwood, Mo.

The winner of the Clarence Knebel Best of Show Award went to Sailer’s Food Market, for its spicy pepperoni in the Cured Specialty Meats category. Jake Sailer pointed out that the pepperoni also won the Best of Show Award in the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors convention, held earlier this year. The product was developed with one of his long-time employees.

“We bought a drying chamber about five years ago,” Sailer says. He and the employee took a master meat class separately, and the spicy pepperoni was the result of that work.

“He brought it a long way, and we did a little fine-tuning, and it turned out to be a wonderful, wonderful product,” he adds.

Dewig Meats won the Cured Meat Excellence Award for the best overall performance at the ACMC. In addition to its three Grand Champion Awards, the company won two Reserve Grand Champion, one Champion and two Reserve Champion Awards.