Sunday, November 21, 2010

The wonder meat...

I like Chinese food, and for many of us, that meal is most often served at Panda Express. Sometimes called the next McDonald's, this fast-growing chain makes an interesting business case and success story, but buried in an article outlining the future of the business was this little gem:
To reach Cherng's goal of $2 million per store in annual revenue and $2 billion in total sales, the company is going to have to make some changes. Lunde, the highest-ranking Caucasian in a company dominated by Asians and Latinos, believes he can improve sales by tweaking the menu. Lunde is a creature of the fast-food industry. At Taco Bell, he came up with hit products such as the Chalupa and the Gordita. He joined Panda in 2005 and has since created two recent popular additions to the Panda menu, Kobari Beef and Honey Walnut Shrimp. Kobari Beef is based on a dish originally served at the Panda Inn, where it was known as Panda Beef. "We focus-grouped it and found that some people thought we were actually serving panda," says Lunde of the name change. Lunde is best known for his judicious use of one key ingredient: bacon. "I put bacon in everything," he explains. He worries that to expand the business, the chain might need to move into breakfast meals—not a natural area for an Asian-themed restaurant—and add even more bacon. So far, experiments with bacon-cheddar bao—steamed buns—have not met with much success. [More][My emphasis]
I wonder if, just as we have bred poultry with supersized breast proportions, we will (or perhaps are) breeding pigs primarily for bacon (bellies).  Apparently we have done so in the past.
Most people would rather spend their time eating crispy, smoky strips of bacon than studying the breed it came from, but when a pig has earned the nickname “the bacon pig,” it deserves a closer look.
Ohio Farm Bureau members Paul and Marilyn Morrison raise this special “bacon” breed called the Tamworth on their 350-acre Darke County farm as show pigs and breeding stock for pork producers throughout Ohio, New York and as far west as Missouri and Arkansas.
“I’ve raised just about every breed of meat pig over the past 20 years,” Morrison said. “What makes Tamworths special is that they grow slowly so they are leaner with just the right amount of belly fat.” That’s what you look for in good bacon: lean, finely grained meat balanced with ribbons of fat running throughout.
The Tamworth originated from central England and was imported to America in the early 1800s. Considered a heritage breed, it is the result of centuries of breeding to preserve unique and desirable genetic traits including ones that help it resist disease and tolerate local environmental conditions. [More]
I like the stuff, but it seems to be taking on a whole new role in modern menus.  Explosive demand like this always makes me nervous. This smells like a salty fad to me.


Jake in OH said...

Better tasting Bacon??? No way!! Bacon is already the best thing on earth. If you can improve on it, there goes my retirement...I will have a warehouse full of bacon!!

Anonymous said...

niche market at best---in ontario we had a big push with "berkshire" for high end restaurants and retailers...problem is many slow growth,,costs too high over commodity pork ,productivity and the biggest one--when selling in niche food markets its hard too collect your has pretty much died in ontario...if hogs where $200 a piece then it may have had a chance...and other than "name marketing" they really had no taste advantage-regards-kevin

JR said...

John I am going to hijack your thread here. I was wondering if you had any comments from that elite producers meeting? JR