BBP 019: All About Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork with Ozlem Worpel
In this session of the podcast, we’re talking about Tyson Fresh Meats’ Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork, which made its debut this past February. Knowing that competition pitmasters are always looking for an edge, proteins qualifying as “Prime” definitely turn heads – especially if they’re newcomers to the field.
Ozlem Worpel, Senior Brand Manager for Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. cleared some time out of her schedule to talk with me about the Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork line, and I think you’ll really enjoy the level of detail she goes into when describing the features of the Tyson prime pork line and the measures the company is taking to make consistency, the one thing that’s always of primary import to chefs and pitmasters alike, is always on point.
As we work our way through the podcast session, you’ll learn about:
- How the Tyson Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork line came to be
- What Tyson Fresh Meats looks for in prime pork as far as color and pH is concerned
- Different steps the Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork program is taking to ensure consistent quality
- Initial plans Tyson Fresh Meats is putting in place to engage with Pitmasters
Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork – A Closer Look
One of the first food industry news journals to report on the Chariman’s Reserve Prime Pork line was The Shelby Report — first in February and then in March of this year. Per their article “Tyson’s New Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork Is An ‘Aspirational’ Product,” they quote Kent Harrison, Vice President of Marketing and Premium Programs for Tyson Fresh Meats, as saying that only 17 percent of pork produced will meet the company’s standard for “Prime Pork.”
I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but given Tyson’s market share in the fresh pork space, I’d say 17 percent of the pork running through their Fresh Meats division represents an amount that should keep this higher grade of product available at prices that might come in between regular commodity pork and what some competitors are paying for higher end specialty breed pork.
If you’re reading this and thinking “Isn’t that what Smithfield has done with their Prime launched 3 years ago (2014)?” If so, you’re reading my mind. And, I’m interested to know what the qualifications for the Smithfield Prime Pork line are, as compared to the Tyson Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork line.
I’m hard-pressed not to see here that Tyson might be following what they’ve seen to be a successful model with Smithfield. But that’s what businesses do, right? We’ll see how things pan out in comparison – whether first to market is better or whether a better “model” steams ahead.
In any case, I see a test cook comparison in the future!
Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork: Color, pH, and Marbling
As previously mentioned, the pork included in the Chairman’s Reserve Prime program must meet specific guidelines for color, pH and marbling.
The following image shows the color range for Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork.
The following image shows the marbling range for Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork.
As you can see, we’re talking about a color range from 4-5, pH of 6-6.5, and marbling between 3-5. The following images are from the Tyson Fresh Meats Prime Pork page, but the same color and marbling charts can be found on the National Pork Board’s website.
Time Stamped Show Notes
- [2:30] We get an overview of the Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork line, its selection qualifications, and the goals the product line is designed to meet.
- [4:57] Tenderness wins the game every time, and Ozlem shares how pH levels impact the tenderness of pork. This is a great part of the interview.
- [8:54] I ask Ozlem to talk about whether the Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork line is breed specific. She confirms here that it is not. Rather, the pork selected for the Prime category is done so per the color, pH, and marbling specifications provided above.
- [11:19] We discuss the two main pork cuts used in competition BBQ – the Boston Butt and Spare Ribs. We talk about packaging here as well, and Ozlem confirms that the spare ribs come in single slab cryovac packages. It’s clear that specification and presentation right out of the package are important to Tyson for the Prime Line.
- [14:47] Right now, there are some retailers in the north-east part of the country who are currently selling the Chairman’s Reserve Prime pork. A current list of service centers around the US can be found here. Some “sleuthing” on Facebook shows that the Buehler’s Grocery chain in Ohio carries it now.
- [17:04] I ask Ozlem to talk about whether Tyson Fresh Meats has begun to reach out to BBQ Teams at all in an effort to expand the market for their Prime Pork line. She explains that this is definitely part of their 2018 budget year planning. Stay tuned for more!
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