Manitoba’s new king of burgers 

Processor to distribute homemade-style patties

A great homemade burger is juicy, packed with flavour and is a little rough around the edges.
Thanks to a new type of burger technology, a Winnipeg-based meat company is now producing high volumes of that homemade-style patty.
“When a customer in a mid- to high-end restaurant opens a bun they expect to see those irregular edges,” said Jeff Fidyk, business development specialist for Manitoba Agriculture. “This is one of the visual attributes associated with a premium burger made in-house.”
Usually an industrial burger press will send a large portion of ground beef through a flattening belt and then have the burgers cut out in a press. This is how the smooth edges of a typical freezer-packaged burger patty are formed. With the new burger forming technology at Smith’s Quality Meats the burgers are churned out one at a time and then flattened individually, giving each patty a homemade look and texture.
The equipment also creates a higher quality burger using just meat, with no need for any additional binding or seasoning to keep the patties together. However Smith’s will be producing varieties that include seasoning to produce a specific flavour.
“This allows us to approach higher-end businesses with confidence. When you go to a restaurant you’re looking for that homemade look, texture and taste,” said Andy Van Patter, operations manager at Smith’s Quality Meats. “A high-end burger matters, people don’t want to eat a hockey puck.”
Van Patter expects this capability to raise Smith’s burger production by 500 per cent.

More than just burgers

Smith’s does more than just burgers. For more than 60 years it has been one of Manitoba’s leading processors and distributors of meat, producing a wide range of smoked, cooked and sausage products including corned beef, roast beef, salami, pepperoni and smokies. Smith's also supplies portion-controlled beef, pork, lamb, veal and bison to the foodservice industry.
On average Smith’s 44 full-time staff will work to process 400,000 kg of Manitoba pork per year, and are expecting to increase the amount to 520,000 kg over the next five years - this will be done thanks to the recent purchase of a new smoker and new steam generators for existing smokers.
The company’s two large smokers can fit two racks of meat, which are large enough that they have to be wheeled up a ramp into each smoker. The two current smaller smokers can fit one and one and a half racks respectively.
“One rack is 400 pounds of meat, with the additional smokehouse and generator we’re looking at cooking six racks in two hours,” said Van Patter.
Smith’s makes corned beef and a number of other deli meats that it supplies to retailers in Western Canada. By adding new equipment and increasing capacity, Smith’s is hoping to expand its service and begin providing its products to every Co-op in Western Canada.
“We’re in three of the Red River Co-ops in Winnipeg,” Van Patter said.
Smith’s Quality Meats’ new burger forming technology, smokehouse and steam generators were supported in part by Growing Forward 2's Growing Value program. This program provides financial assistance for pre-commercialization, commercialization and market development activities that move innovative ideas to market. This includes funding for new product development, market research, equipment purchase, adoption of environmental sustainability practices, and updating skills and technologies.