Farm Bureau - Melissa Wheeler

The North Bend Eagle

 

Meat
Jordan Krelmacek began Kremlacek Family Meats in 2017 as a hobby. His pork is now being served in a restaurant and sold in stores with a reputation of packing in more flavor than the national brands.

Kremlacek meats putting flavor back into pork

by Nathan Arneal
Published 8/11/21

Growing up in Morse Bluff, livestock was not a part of Jordan Krelacek’s life.
“I mean, I never even had a dog growing up,” he said.

That lack of experience didn’t stop him from building his own livestock business and now seeing pork he raised from start to finish sold in stores and served in restaurants.

“It started as a plain hobby and it developed into an actual source of income,” Kremlacek said. “In four short years, I’d say I’ve probably exceeded where I thought I’d be.”

Kremlacek, 28, started Kremlacek Family Meats in 2017. After graduating from North Bend Central in 2012 and getting a diversified ag degree from Northeast Community College in 2104, he moved back to Morse Bluff and began farming with his dad Randy.

In 2015, he bought 80 acres of ground two miles north of North Bend. A couple of years later, in the fall of 2017, be bought 30 or so feeder pigs at sale barns in Wahoo and Columbus.

“It was on a whim,” Kremlacek said. “I really don’t even remember why I got started. I just thought it would be fun to feed out a dozen pigs or so.”

He kept the hogs in a small shed in the corner of the 80 after installing a hydrant so his animals could get water. He spent that winter keeping his hogs warm and trying to keep their water from freezing.

“I didn’t have any of the things I needed to efficiently raise hogs,” Kremlacek said, “but I got a good education and slowly started expanding.”

An uncle gave him a feeder unit to get him started. Kremlacek had a gravity wagon that he filled with bulk feed and a bucket he used to scoop the feed and move it into the feeder.

“I don’t know how many thousands of buckets I threw that first year,” he said, “but it was character building, I’ll say.”

When that first batch of hogs were ready to butcher, he started calling friends and family to see if they’d be interested in purchasing a whole or half hog. Very few of them had any experience buying meat directly from a producer, but most of them became repeat customers.

Kremlacek was on to something.

In 1987 the pork industry began its “Pork. The other white meat,” campaign, promoting pork as a lean meat to health conscious consumers. Sales went up, but with an attempt to produce leaner meat, fat content – and therefore flavor – went down, Kremlacek said. It was a niche he thought he could exploit, so he started looking for a breed of hog that would produce a more flavorful meat.

“That’s when I made the shift to stop buying feeder pigs from the sale barn,” Kremlacek said, “because I never knew what kind of breed I was going to get or diseases they would bring.”

He found that breeding a Hereford boar with Berkshire and Mangalitsa sows produced the flavor he was looking for. Now every hog he sells was born on his farm.

“Once I brought these certain breeds in, my meat quality picked up tremendously,” Kremlacek said. “People really started to take notice and word traveled from there.”

When customers buy a hog or half hog from him, Kremlacek has the animal processed at North Bend Locker, where the customer picks it up.

However, a couple of years ago, Kremlacek started processing some of his hogs at federally inspected facilities, which allows the meat to get a USDA stamp and be sold as retail or through restaurants, which allowed Kremlacek Family Meats to expand its business.

At about that time Robert Knobbe, the owner and chef at the Bohemian Duck restaurant in West Point, was looking for a pork supplier. He saw a social media post from a mutual friend about Kremlacek Family Meats.

The company’s name and location caught Knobbe’s attention.

“I saw that he was from over there in the Morse Bluff area,” the chef said, “so I had a feeling he had some Bohemian blood in him.”

Knobbe credits his own taste in food, not to mention the name of his restaurant, to a youth spent eating his Bohemian great-grandmother’s food, including roast duck and dumplings made from scratch.

A social media message led to a phone call, which soon led to Kremlacek and his wife Joni to take a trip up to West Point with several examples of Kremlacek Family Meats in tow.

Read the full story in the print or e-edition.

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