American Association of Meat Processors Honors the Winners of 2023 American Cured Meat Championships

Bardine's Country Smokehouse Wins Fourth Best of Show Award for its Boneless Commercial Ham.
The American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) announced the winners of the 2023 American Cured Meat Championships. The competition took place during the association's annual convention, July 13-15 in Charleston, SC. This year, 56 plants from 29 states entered a total of 583 products in the competition. The Best of Show Award went to a Pennsylvania processor who won the top ACMC Award for the fourth time – in four different categories.

There are 29 categories in the ACMC, with different categories for bacon, sausage, meat sticks, hams, jerky and specialty products. Additionally, the ACMC includes a featured class that changes from year to year. This year's Specialty Class was a Specialty Loaf. Meat processors enter their products for evaluation by judges, who are meat scientists and specialists in the industry. All entries are judged based on aroma, flavor, eye appeal, color, and texture. There are four prizes awarded in each category, with the Grand Champion going to the best product in the class. The 29 Grand Champions products in this year's ACMC were:
  • Andouille Sausage: Dayton Meat Products Inc., Malcolm, IA
  • Bacon (Heavyweight): Stroots Meat Co., Goddard, KS
  • Bacon (Lightweight): Country Meat Shop, Moberly, MO
  • Braunschweiger: Bob's Processing Inc., Grand Haven, MI
  • Country Bacon - Dry Cured: Gentert Packing Co., Holstein, NE
  • Cured Specialty Meat Products: Dewig Meats, Haubstadt, IN (smoked turkey breast)
  • Dried Beef: Dewig Meats, Haubstadt, IN
  • Frankfurters/Wieners - Coarse Ground: Merindorf Meats Inc., Mason, MI
  • Frankfurters/Wieners - Emulsified: Country Meat Shop, Moberly, MO
  • Ham - Bone-in (Heavyweight): Dayton Meat Products Inc., Malcolm, IA
  • Ham - Bone-in (Lightweight): Eickman's Processing Co., Seward, IL
  • Ham - Boneless (Commercial): Bardine's Country Smoke House Inc., Crabtree, PA
  • Ham - Boneless (Traditional): Country Meat Shop, Moberly, MO
  • Ham - Semi-Boneless: Country Meat Shop, Moberly, MO
  • Jerky - Restructured: Schmidts' Meat Market, Nicollet, MN
  • Jerky - Whole Muscle: Merindorf Meats Inc., Merindorf, MI
  • Luncheon Meat - Large Diameter: Louie's Finer Meats Inc., Cumberland, WI (Lebanon Bologna)
  • Meat Snack Sticks: Jerome Country Market, Jerome, MI
  • Meat Snack Sticks - Flavored: Bardine's Country Smoke House Inc., Crabtree, PA (Beef Stick with Cheese)
  • Old World Dried Fermented Sausage: Louie's Finer Meats Inc., Cumberland, WI (Sopressatta)
  • Ring Bologna - Cooked: Dewig Meats, Haubstadt, IN
  • Semi-Dried Sausage (Cooked, Non-Fermented): Newhall Locker & Processing, Newhall, IA
  • Small Diameter Hot Link Sausage: Walke Brothers Meats, Claremore, OK
  • Small Diameter Smoked & Cooked Sausage:  Country Meat Shop, Moberly, MO
  • Smoked Turkey: Dewig Meats, Haubstadt, IN
  • Specialty Flavor Small Diameter Smoked/Cooked Sausage:  Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., Tulare, CA
  • Specialty Game Meats: Tommy G's Meat & Sausage, Fairbanks, AK (Reindeer Cotto Salami)
  • Summer Sausage - Cooked: Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., Tulare, CA
  • 2023 Featured Class: Specialty Loaf Product: Newhall Locker & Processing, Newhall, IA
The annual Cured Meat Excellence Award is presented to the processor that has the best overall performance at the ACMC. This year's winner was Dewig Meats, which won four Grand Champion Awards, as well as nine Reserve Grand Champions (2nd Place), one Champion (3rd Place) and three Reserve Champions (4th Place). It was the fourth consecutive ACMC that the Haubstadt, IN, processor won the award. The Clarence Knebel Best of Show Memorial Award went to Bardine's Country Smokehouse for its Boneless Commercial Ham Entry. The Crabtree, Pa., processor has won the Best of Show Award four times, dating back to 2012. Impressively, the company has won the top prize with four different products: Boneless Commercial Ham (2023), Heavyweight Bacon (2022), Country Bacon (2015) and Lightweight Bone-In Ham (2012).

A relatively new addition to the ACMC is the University Class, which gives meat science students an opportunity to develop top products. There were two categories in this year's University judging. The top product in the Jerky Class went to Will Boyd of West Texas A&M University, and the best of the Cured Specialty Product category was from Elizabeth Ross of Oklahoma Panhandle State University. The Traveling Trophy, which is presented to the best overall student competitor, was presented to Heather Hunt of Penn State University.

The ACMC co-technical advisors for the 2023 competition were: Jeffrey Sindelar, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.; Terry Houser, Ph.D., Iowa State University, Ames, IA, and Jonathan Campbell, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA. The ACMC Coordinator was Matt Wenger of Iowa State University. Numerous AAMP staff members, university students and volunteers all participated in making the ACMC run smoothly, from accepting entries, slicing, cooking and calculating final results. Volunteers spent approximately 372 hours making sure the event ran smoothly.

AAMP wishes to thank the coordinators, volunteers and judges who worked tirelessly on this year's ACMC. The Association also congratulates the winners who submitted so many excellent products.

“This year's ACMC event was particularly competitive, and our judges were faced with many tough decisions,” said Chris Young, Executive Director of AAMP. “ACMC winners produce some of the best meat products in the nation, and we are proud to call them AAMP members.”

A full list of winners is available at The 2024 ACMC will take place August 1-3 , during the AAMP convention in Omaha, NE. For more information, visit