Tough economic times demand cost-savings efficiencies that often force us to settle for lower quality. But, what if we still demand excellence?

The question then becomes, how do we not sacrifice quality at the expense of cost savings. One thing is certain, smoke is not what it used to be. Equipment manufacturers have not tackled the challenge to design an efficient smoke generator that has addressed both cost savings and excellent product until now. 

Chad and Verlyn Ruiter, of V&M Locker and Grocer in Leota, Minn., and their company’s Pro Smoker 'N Roaster Wood Pellet Generator.

Meat markets across the country have expressed their frustrations with insufficient smoke quality, flavor and color of product — or all three. V&M Locker in Leota, Minn., is a 39-year-old, family owned and operated locker and grocer that was all too familiar with this problem. V&M used a sawdust generator that produced high electric bills and low product yield. These issues caused the company to seek out an energy-efficient unit that also provided high-quality smoke.

 “Our old sawdust generator was messy requiring lots of cleaning time and the flavor was not great,” explains Verlyn Ruiter, owner of V&M.

Pro Smoker ‘N Roaster listened to the needs of V&M and decided to develop a cost-efficient, pellet-fired smoke generator that also delivered quality smoke. The company set out with one goal, to get back to the smoke once provided by block wood that achieved that Old World pit-house flavor. However, it had to be accomplished in a way that improved cost savings too.

Six years of testing and field use helped perfect the process of food-grade wood fiber pellet smoke production. The fourth-generation, family owned and operated smokehouse manufacturer recognized that sawdust, chips or liquid smoke atomizers were not supplying sufficient smoke flavor. Moving toward a quality pellet could help achieve the same results block wood provided back in the day.

“Our beef sticks used to take 10-12 hours, where now with Pro Smoker ‘N Roaster’s Wood Pellet Generator, it only takes four hours,” says Chad Ruiter, Verlyn’s son and also an owner of V&M. Chad goes on to say, “The smoke is so much more dense, and it provides much better flavor.”

When targeting cost savings, the analysis focused on cost efficiencies that would not compromise quality smoke. The research-and-development team set out to design a durable, energy-efficient unit.

Electrical use is reduced by as much as 20 times. The new pellet generator uses less than one amp electrical power, compared to as much as 20 amps in a conventional sawdust or chips unit. Several power companies have offered cash rebates for power conservation to pellet generator purchasers.

Furthermore, the pellet generator produces far less creosote, resulting in a 66% reduction in chemical and labor costs. Build-up and honey-combing in the smoke pipes, as well as flash fires are virtually eliminated with periodic cleaning.

Bill McMullen, of McMullen’s Market in New Philadelphia, Pa., recently purchased the Pro Smoker ‘N Roaster’s pellet generator, and won the Pennsylvania Association of Meat Processors’ Grand Champion award in the Ring Bologna category, using the machine in the process.

“I felt I wasn’t getting enough flavor with my old unit,” McMullen explains. “The pellet generator produces more smoke very quickly, is very easy to clean and consumes less electricity.”

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