Welcome to a look behind the scenes of the 2018 American Cured Meat Championships. Independent Processor editor-in-chief Sam Gazdziak spoke with many of the judges to get their insights on what it takes to make a best-in-class cured meat product.

Consumers are turning to meat more and more frequently for their snacking options, and jerky —restructured or whole muscle— is a popular choice. Dr. Carol Lorenzen of the University of Missouri shows how taste, texture and appearance all make for an award-winning product.