Halal beef bacon will soon be produced in this shuttered production plant in Eustis, in central Nebraska. (Courtesy of Dawson Public Power District)
LINCOLN — A McCook, Nebraska, company hopes to tap into the growing demand for Halal products by producing beef bacon at a now shuttered plant in Eustis, Nebraska.
On Monday, Copperstone Foods of McCook announced that it will produce Halal-certified beef bacon at a plant that once housed The Village PieMaker. That locally founded business, later purchased by businessman Joe Ricketts, closed its Eustis operation in 2020 and moved production to Omaha.
Copperstone, which had produced dried beef snacks at the Eustis facility at one time, plans to process up to 30,000 pounds of beef bacon per day and hire about 18 full-time employees. A 2,500-square-foot expansion, for additional refrigerated storage, is also planned.
Demand rising for Halal foods
Cal Siegfried, Copperstone’s president and managing partner, said that he had purchased a part ownership of a company that already produces Halal beef bacon and discovered that it was an “exceptionally good” product.
Plus, demand for Halal food — which translates as “permissible” food — is growing 11% a year globally, in part due to the growth in Muslim consumers and interest in higher-quality products.
“It’s an incredibly underserved market,” Siegfried said.
Dawson Public Power District assisted Copperstone Foods in obtaining a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program.
The first $5 million, along with owner investments, will finance the expansion of the building and equipment purchases, including robotics to smoke and slice the beef, according to Dave Behle, an economic developer with Dawson.
Beef bacon is produced from “beef plates,” a less valuable cut that is usually ground into hamburger.
Siegfried said that beef plates will be shipped to Eustis from Halal-certified processing plants, then brined, smoked, sliced and packaged in the central Nebraska farm town.
Eventually, the finished bacon will be shipped to Chicago-based Crescent Foods, a leader in Halal products for over 25 years.
To be certified Halal, animals must be slaughtered with minimal suffering. Halal foods also cannot contain pork or intoxicants, harmful ingredients, or unsanitary elements.
At least two meatpacking plants in Omaha are certified Halal, though Siegfried said it hasn’t been decided where his operation will get its beef.
Lower sodium product
Siegfried said that beef bacon is a lower sodium product that “fries up crispy without crumbling and boasts a substantial, smoked flavor.” It will be marketed, he said, at more than Halal markets.
The Eustis plant is expected to begin production next summer.
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