Beef's answer to bacon has achieved a 2014 Food and Beverage Innovations Award winner, presented by the National Restaurant Association.
Schmacon, an innovation funded in part by the Beef Checkoff's Beef Innovations Group, contains 30 calories, 2 g fat, and 60 mg sodium. It's a competitor to pork bacon, which average 60-90 calories, 4.5-7 g fat, and 190-360 mg sodium.
As a 2014 FABI Award recipient, Schmacon whole muscle beef slices use a patent-pending process and a proprietary spice blend to deliver a smoky, slightly sweet flavor. They are pre-cooked and ready for crisping in an oven, microwave or on a flat-top griddle.
"The new audience of millennials and, for that matter, all consumers, want choices," says Jennifer Houston, cattle producer and auction market owner from Sweetwater, Tenn. "They want different taste sensations, spices, ethnic food, dish sizes and as an industry we need to stay fresh and innovative."
Howard Bender, chef and Chicago deli owner who created the product, says it opens up opportunities for those who love traditional bacon, but for one reason or another, limit intake or avoid it altogether.
"We've been testing the product for months in our deli -- serving it on sandwiches, as a topping for soups and hot dishes and, of course, alongside our breakfast entrees," Bender said. "Our customers are crazy about the flavor, and we're excited FABI judges agree that Schmacon is primed to be a big hit."
In addition to religious dietary requirements, there is opportunity for Schmacon in breakfast sandwiches, alongside eggs or to be served as "breakfast for dinner," a statement from the Beef Checkoff explained.
"The beef checkoff immediately recognized the potential in Schmacon to be a successful new beef product in the breakfast daypart," says Bender. "They have aided us throughout our development and launch process, providing credibility and exposure at a critical time."
Schmacon is now available commercially, and participants in the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, May 17-20, will have the opportunity to sample it. It will be sold into the retail market by the end of the year.