Small meat processors returned to the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP)’s annual convention to network, renew friendships and, of course, compete in the American Cured Meat Championships. The ACMC brings together some of the best hams, bacon, sausages and other cured products from across the country. After a year’s absence due to the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, the quality of products shown at the ACMC was a good as ever. In the end, the big winner was Dewig Meats, a Haubstadt, Ind., processor that walked away with the event’s two most prestigious awards, including the Best of Show award.

The ACMC draws participants from across the United States. This year, there were 490 entries in 29 product classes. In total, 53 AAMP membership plants participated in the competition. Meat processors enter their products for evaluation by judges who are meat scientists and specialists in the industry. All entries are judged on the basis of aroma, flavor, eye appeal, color, and texture.

Depending on the number of entries in a categories, there could be up to four awards given. The Grand Champion in each category was as follows:

Andouille Sausage: Louisiana Craft Butchers, Kenner, La.

Bacon (Heavyweight): Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., Tulare, Calif.

Bacon (Leightweight): Dewig Meats, Haubstadt, Ind.

Braunschweiger: Dewig Meats

Country Bacon – Dry Cured: RJ’s Meats, Hudson, Wis.

Cured Specialty Meat Products: Louis’s Finer Meats Inc., Cumberland, Wis. (Japaleno & Cheddar Summer Sausage)

Dried Beef: Tiefenthaler Quality Meats, Holstein, Iowa

Frankfurters/Weiners – Coarse Ground: McDonald’s Meats, Clear Lake, Minn.

Frankfurters/Weiners – Emulsified: Karl’s Country Market, Menomonee Falls, Wis.

Ham – Bone-In (Heavyweight): Tiefenthaler Quality Meats

Ham – Bone-In (Lightweight): Tiefenthaler Quality Meats

Ham – Boneless (Traditional): Country Meat Shop, Moberly, Mo.

Ham – Semi-Boneless: Dewig Meats

Jerky – Restructured: Schmidt’s Meat Market Inc., Nicollet, Minn.

Jerky – Whole Muscle: Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co.

Luncheon Meat – Large Diameter: Country Meat Shop (Bologna)

Meat Snack Sticks: Stroot’s Meat Co., Mulvane, Kan.

Meat Snack Sticks – Flavored: Louie’s Finer Meats Inc. (Jalapeno & Cheddar Sticks)

Old World Dried Fermented Sausage: Our Hand Crafted LLC, Spring Valley, Wis. (Soppressata)

Ring Bologna – Cooked: Schmidt’s Meat Market

Semi-Dried Sausage (Cooked, Non-Fermented): Dewig Meats (Summer Sausage)

Small Diameter Hot Link Sausage: Den’s Country Meats Inc., Table Rock, Neb.

Small Diameter Smoked & Cooked Sausage: Holland Bros. Meats, Duncansville, Pa. (Kolbassi)

Smoked Turkey: Dewig Meats

Specialty Flavor Small Diameter Smoked/Cooked Sausage: Den’s Country Meats Inc. (Mac & Cheese Brat)

Specialty Game Meats: Jerome Country Market, Jerome, Mich. (Elk Jalapeno & Cheese Bologna)

Summer Sausage – Cooked: McDonald’s Meats Inc.

(2021 Featured Class) Pepper Flavored Small Diameter Smoked & Cooked Sausage: Gentert Packing Co., Holstein, Neb. (Peppered Polish)

In addition to the category awards, the Clarence Knebel Memorial Best of Show Award went to Dewig Meats for its Lightweight bacon entry. The company also won the Cured Meat Excellence Award, which is given to the company that has the best overall performance at the ACMC.

Two processors were added to the Cured Meats Hall of Fame. The 2020 inductee was John Tiefenthaler of Thefenthaler Quality Meats. Due to the absence of an AAMP Convention in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was recognized for his achievements this year. The 2021 inductee was Aaron Kiesel of Dewig Meats.

The 2022 ACMC will take place during the AAMP Convention in Des Moines Iowa, scheduled for July 14-16.