By Sam Gazdziak

The economic downturn that started last year and is still affecting the U.S. economy has made things difficult for every industry, not just the meat-processing industry. But life goes on, and companies are doing what they have to do in order to maintain sales and profitability. The companies that are a part of our Top 75 have done just that. They’ve survived where others have faltered, and several of them have enjoyed record-setting years at a time where others are struggling for survival.

John Soules Foods (#9) introduced new fully cooked rotisserie chicken strips, season chicken strips and chicken fillets. Alderfer Inc. and Leidy’s Inc., two of last year’s Top companies, merged into a new entity, ALL Holding Co. Inc. (#25). Charlie’s Pride Meats (#31) built a new processing facility/warehouse. Those are just three examples of how companies are forging ahead with their plans to improve their companies. As an added bonus, those processors that make improvements to survive in the rough times now will be that much further ahead of the game when the economy does turn around.

Thanks to Pamela Smith for her help in compiling this report.

Would you like to have your company in the Top 75 list for next year? E-mail with your contact information, and we’ll add you to our list for 2010.

The Top 75 list

(Note: The complete report can be found in the Independent Provisioner digital archives,

Rank, Name, Location, Net Sales (millions)

1. Overhill Farms Inc., Vernon, Calif., $238.8
2. Superior Farms, Davis, Calif., $225
3. Carl Buddig & Co., Homewood, Ill., $220 (est)
4. Fair Oaks Farms LLC, Pleasant Prairie, Wis., $210
5. Land O’ Frost, Lansing, Ill., $195 (est)
6. Harrison Poultry Inc., Bethlehem, Ga., $183
7. Farmer’s Pride Inc., Fredericksburg, Pa., $180 (est)
8. Odom’s Tennessee Pride Sausage Inc., Madison, Tenn., $166 (est)
9. John Soules Foods Inc., Tyler, Texas, $164
10. Maple Leaf Farms Inc., Milford, Ind., $161 (est)
11. Custom Food Products LLC, Carson, Calif., $151.926
12T. Mountain States Rosen LLC, Bronx, N.Y., $150
12T. Sioux-Preme Packing Co., Sioux Center, Iowa, $150
12T. Kayem Foods Inc., Chelsea, Mass., $150
15. Rose Packing Co. Inc., Barrington, Ill., $148 (est)
16. Strauss Brands International, Franklin, Wis., $128
17. Dakota Provisions, Huron, S.D., $125
18. J.H. Routh Packing Co., Sandusky, Ohio, $124 (est)
19. Bridgford Foods Corp., Anaheim, Calif., $121
20. Loggins Meat Co. Inc., Tyler, Texas, $115.4 (est)
21. Lincoln Provision Inc., Chicago, Ill., $115 (est)
22. Atlantic Premium Brands Ltd., Northbrook, Ill., $110
23. Abbyland Foods Inc., Abbortsford, Wis., $108.4
24. Vienna Beef Ltd., Chicago, Ill., $108 (est)
25T. ALL Holding Co. Inc. (Alderfer Inc. & Leidy’s Inc.), Harleysville, Pa., $100
25T. Peer Foods Group, Chicago, Ill., $100
25T. Marcho Farms Inc., Harleysville, Pa., $100 (est)
28. Chicago Meat Authority Inc., Chicago, Ill., $90
29. Catelli Brothers Inc., Collingswood, N.J., $90 (est)
30. JTM Food Group, Harrison, Ohio, $82
31T. Charlie’s Pride Meats, Vernon, Calif., $78
31T. Michael’s Finer Meats, Columbus, Ohio, $78 (est)
33. Premium Protein Products, Lincoln, Neb., $70 (est)
34. Vincent Giordano Corp., Philadelphia, Pa., $68
35T. Cloverdale Foods Co., Mandan, N.D., $65
35T. MBA Poultry, Waverly, Neb., $65
35T. Milton Abeles Inc., Port Washington, N.Y., $65
38. First Class Foods Inc., Hawthorne, Calif., $54
39. A. Stein Meat Products Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y., $50
40. Dole & Bailey Inc., Woburn, Mass., $45
41. Julian Freirich Co. Inc., Salsbury, N.C., $44 (est)
42. Manda Packing Co. LLC, Baton Rouge, La., $43
43T. Rocky Mountain Natural Meats, Henderson, Colo., $40
43T. Columbia Packing Co. Inc., Dallas, Texas, $40 (est)
45. Dillon Provision Co. Inc., Dillon, S.C., $38.6
46. Burgers’ Smokehouse, California, Mo., $38
47. Godshall’s Quality Meats, Telford, Pa., $36
48T. Broadleaf (USA) Inc., Vernon, Calif., $32
48T. Brown Packing Co./Dutch Valley Foods, South Holland, Ill., $32
50. Ideal Meat & Provisions Inc., Northridge, Calif., $28
51T. Blue Grass Quality Meats, Crescent Springs, Ky., $24
51T. Deli Brands of America, Baltimore, Md., $24
51T. Wimmer’s Meat Products, West Point, Neb., $24 (est)
54. Lewistown Valley Enterprises dba Kochs Turkey Farm, Tamaqua, Pa., $20.86
55. Source Verified Foods LLC/Vande Rose Foods LLC, Oskaloosa, Iowa, $20
56. Carlton Farms, Carlton, Ore., $18
57. Brookwood Farms Inc., Siler City, N.C., $17.5
58. Calihan Pork Processors Inc., Peoria, Ill., $17
59. Certified Meat Products, Fresno, Calif., $16.6
60. Old World Provisions Inc., Albany, N.Y., $14.25
61. Southern Pride Meat. Co. Inc., Goldsboro, N.C., $14
62T. Bush Brothers Provision Co., West Palm Beach, Fla., $13
62T. K. Heeps Inc., Allentown, Pa., $13
64. Gahn Meat Co. Inc., Milwaukee, Wis., $12.5
65. Deli Star Corp., Fayetteville, Ill., $12
66T. Byron Center Meats, Byron Center, Mich., $10
66T. Watson’s Quality Food Products Inc., Blackwood, N.J., $10
66T. Palmyra Bologna Co., Palmyra, Pa., $10 (est)
69. Foodway - The Louisiana Way, Shreveport, La., $8.2
70T. Martin’s Specialty Sausage Co. Inc., Mickleton, N.J., $8
70T. The Butcher Block Inc. dba North Country Smokehouse, Clairmont, N.H., $8
72. Kessler’s Inc., Lemoyne, Pa., $7
73. Butcher Boy Meat, Deli & Catering Inc., Sparks, Nev., $4
74. Jennings Premium Meats Inc., New Franklin, Mo., $3.35
75. Esposito’s Finest Quality Sausage Products, New York, N.Y., $3

Top 75 company highlights

Overhill Farms Inc.shipped its first orders under its alliance with Better Living Brands, a Safeway affiliate. Better Living Brands Alliance was formed to meet consumer demand and fuel the consistent growth in consumption of organic foods, health and wellness foods and beverages.

John Soules Foods Inc. introduced several new products: Fully Cooked Rotisserie Chicken Strips, Fully Cooked Italian Seasoned Chicken Strips and Fully Cooked Rotisserie Chicken Fillets.

In September, 2008, Mountain States Lamb Corp., a 50 percent joint venture partner in Mountain States Rosen, purchased a 100-percent interest in the enterprise.

Kayem Foods entered into a multi-year sponsorship with the Boston Red Sox to manufacture the Fenway Franks line of hot dogs and make Kayem Foods the Official Hot Dog of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park. As part of the agreement, Kayem reformulated the hot dog and introduced a new and improved product on Opening Day, 2009. Kayem is also celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2009.

On November 3, 2008, the owners of Leidy’s Inc. and Alderfer Inc. announced a merger of the two companies via the formation of a new, jointly owned entity, ALL Holding Co. Inc. Tom and Terry Leidy and Ken Longacre, the respective owners of Leidy’s and Alderfer’s, are equal partners in the new entity. Jim Van Stone was hired to be CEO of the new company. An industry veteran, Van Stone has held management positions in Jordan’s Foods, Campbell Soup Co. and Hatfield Quality Meats.

Chicago Meat Authority acquired 20,000 square feet of USDA-inspected plant space across the street of its current plant in 2008, allowing the company to increase plant size, add jobs, expand product lines, introduce new capabilities and reconfigure its production lines. The company also named Tom Perlstein as chief operating officer and introduced numerous new products to the marketplace.

Charlie’s Pride Meats introduced a new full line of prepared meals and opened a brand-new state-of-the-art processing facility and warehouse.

Dole & Bailey Inc. opened two new subsidiaries. Northeast Family Farms creates a supply chain between the farmer and the chef, helping local communities preserve the rural landscape and enhance economic opportunities. Northeast Oceans promotes sustainable fisheries and provides support to regional New England fishery management processes.

Manda Fine Meats CEO Robert Yarborough was named the Businessperson of the Year by the Baton Rouge Business Report & Junior Achievement.

Rocky Mountain Natural Meats now offers a 100-percent bison all-natural hot dog, made with organic honey. The company’s fresh ground bison has expanded to be found in Kroger, Safeway, A&P, Food Emporium, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Whole Foods, Briston Farms, Weiss, Hannaford Brothers, Pathmark, Shop Rite, Albertson’s, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Marsh, Raley’s and Ralph’s.

Dutch Valley Foods became a full-line distributor for Dakota Organic Beef, Country Fresh and King’s Pride Australian Lamb & Goat. The company also expanded its domestic lamb-processing capabilities by 20 percent through new partnerships and custom processing agreements.

Deli Brands of America made several key appointments in the last year, including: Ron Tew, vice president of operations; Thomas Freimuth, plant manager; Christopher Carando, vice president of sales, and Robin Volpe, sales representative. The company grew its co-packaging and private labeling capabilities for retail and foodservice companies nationwide and improved its slicing capabilities for its deli meats. Deli Brands also introduced several new products, including meat loaf, cooked taco meat and fresh corned beef hash in 1-pound retail packages.

Koch’s Turkey Farm is working on several new antibiotic-free turkey products, including turkey meatballs, patties, sliders, sausage and sandwich steaks.

Source Verified Foods/Vande Rose Farms acquired a specialty processors in Wellsburg, Iowa, and a value-added processor in Ackley, Iowa, as well as a distribution and sales office in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Its artisan dry cured bacon was featured on both the Today Show and Cook’s Illustrated after being selected as the best bacon by America’s Test Kitchen. The company also released apple-cinnamon pork chops, maple breakfast sausage and roaster pigs.

Brookwood Farms set another record for sales in 2008 and completed a $3 million expansion project to increased cooling and processing areas.

Old World Provisions acquired Fritz Helmbold of Troy, NY, expanding its production capacity and its product capabilities in the process.

Deli Star Corp. is expanding its existing 30,000-square-foot facility with an additional 25,000 square feet of space to meet the demand of new customers. Sales are expected to reach $15 million in 2009 and $20 million in 2010.

Byron Center Meats is building a 14,000 square-foot addition and remodel of its existing plant. The move was planned for the Spring of 2009, giving the company a state-of-the-art plant with new automation and room to grow.

Watson’s Quality Food Products Inc. is an approved co-packer for Wellshire Farms, Whole Foods, Hatfield and Perdue, with Hatfield and Perdue being new agreements from this year. The company’s production of antibiotic-free products rose from 20 percent last year to 35 percent this year.

Kesslers Inc. added a new line of natural items for a private-label customer.

Esposito’s Finest Quality Sausage Products celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2008. The company is now selling its products online via its Web site as well as Amazon to customers nationwide.