by TaLeiza Calloway
Seven gold plaques have been added to the wall above the service counter at the St. Joseph Meat Market. Last year, only one plaque was added to the wall, but the wall is now running out of space to hold the business’s many state and national honors.
The St. Joseph Meat Market won seven awards this year during the 72nd annual convention sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors in Rochester. Categories in which they placed in the top four include: Whole-Bone in Ham (Grand Champion); Fresh Maple Breakfast Link, Smoked Maple Breakfast Link, Wild Rice Sausage, Cooked Summer Sausage, Prepared Food Item and Cooked Poultry Product.
Harvey Pfannenstein, owner of the Meat Market, was pleased with the turnout, especially since it is the first time his business competed since the market’s recent expansion. New smokehouses played a major role, he said, and having more space to work with has improved overall efficiency.
For Pfannenstein and many convention participants, he said, it’s not about competition. Area meat plant owners drive down to the convention together, share recipes and offer general advice and/or a listening ear.
“It’s to bring all the markets together,” Pfannenstein said of the convention. “It’s like a big family.”
The awards recieved make a larger statement about recipients – not only to their community but beyond.
“It’s not so much about winning an award than it is about bragging rights,” Harvey Pfannenstein said. “This says . . . ‘we have a quality product’.”
Sausage-maker Cy Pfannenstein said it is nice to be recognized among one’s peers. There were about 50 registered plants participating this year.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,” Cy Pfannenstein said. “It’s like 4-H. You want to see how you measure up.”
This recognition can also attract customers. In 2007, when the St. Joseph Meat Markt won a national award for its maple sausage, demand for the breakfast meat increased, Cy Pfannenstein said.
Seven staff members traveled to the meat convention this year. Next year, the event is expected to be held in downtown St. Cloud.