The specialty food industry is fast-paced, and there is a seemingly endless stream of innovations that continue to surface. Suppliers of all caliber are refining their products in a way that best represents the company. Jasper Hill Farm has ramped up its growth lately, recently exhibiting at the Winter Fancy Food Show for the first time, and now getting well into its production of fine meats. Originally known for its premium cheeses, the company is accelerating its upward trajectory by navigating this new sector of the industry.
“When we began, all the employees got a pig—like an entire pig every year,” began Zoe Brickley, Development and Marketing. “We had the pig program because you always have whey left over from cheesemaking. If we have a batch of cheese that didn't turn out quite right, that we don't feel good about selling for 30 bucks a pound, we can just turn it into bacon. Our best advice for new cheesemakers is, get some pigs! You’re going to be happy that you have some way of capturing value from to those kinds of batches.”
After this initial experimental program, Jasper Hill continued to grow and worked with chefs and other collaborators on what to do with the pork. Eventually, an expert in butchery and charcuterie helped the company get a small USDA-inspected facility up and running. Now it has its own little mini plant, which is currently being used to focus on dry-cure production.
“There are four different flavors: original, with chunks of Alpha Tolman cheese, with black pepper, and with garlic. Those are classic 4.5 oz sticks with a natural rind on them,” Zoe said. “We had to write a totally novel plan for the USDA inspector because our process is somewhat atypical. We're using a lower temperature and a longer period of time for the fermentation process. So, you get a softer acidity and not the bite that you get from some salamis. It's a very gentle taste but then a lot more depth of flavor. It's worth the wait because you get more complexity.”
The packaging for these products calls out Jasper Hill with a blue label, highlighting points of differentiation like handmade, hand tied, natural rind, and made in Vermont. Right now, Jasper Hill is working with a partner farm in Vermont for sourcing while it scales the facility. Once the facilities are in an ideal place, the company plans to keep farms vibrant in the very local area through additional partnerships and by growing its small herd of heritage breed pigs. Focusing on a 15 mile radius from Greensboro, Vermont, the cheesemaker turned meat curer will be looking to develop pork farming partners in that immediate area.
“We are building the market right alongside the high-end specialty cheese. We feel we've got enough product to work with and more partners to take on. We use the hams and shoulders mostly for the salami, so that leaves the loins, trim, and belly, with which we've developed a complimentary line of Fresh to Frozen product. There are three flavors of the fresh sausage, and then we have classic bacon and we’re turning the loins into Canadian bacon, which is a totally underappreciated product,” Zoe concluded.
The salamis and sausages were launched midway through last year in very small quantities, and Jasper Hill increased production around the holidays. As the company continues to build strategic partnerships, keep your eyes peeled for new premium meats. For all of the latest news in specialty food, keep circling back to Deli Market News.