Knauss Foods is a veteran-owned small business with fifty to sixty employees (seasonally dependent) who continue to make authentic dried beef. From humble beginnings, the company has grown to become the largest manufacturer of dried beef products in the United States. It continues to use the same drying process, done in accordance with the original family recipe that has stood the test of time for Knauss Foods.
In 1902, Edward W. Knauss opened a small butcher shop in Quakertown, Pennsylvania where he sold bacon, ham and hot dogs in addition to the dried beef that would make the company famous. As the popularity of Knauss’ deli products increased in Quakertown and north into the Lehigh Valley, the business eventually required a larger production space to meet this growing demand.
Knauss acquired a larger USDA inspected facility on Broad Street in Quakertown, where Knauss Foods continues to operate today. The space boasted a large production floor, old-fashioned brick ovens and a spacious packaging room which increased the company’s capacities.
Knauss Foods was family operated for five generations. With each generation, the popularity of Knauss’ dried beef continued to rise and so too did the family’s focus on that particular product. The continuing vision was to produce the finest dried beef products in the market.
In its efforts to be the premier dried beef company, Knauss Foods acquired L. Foulke & Son, Andrew’s Dried Beef Co. and Philadelphia’s Carson’s Packaging Co. (which originated in 1888). In 2004, the family sold the business, including the three acquisitions. E.W. Knauss was now under the leadership of Alderfer Inc.
Paul J. Kozloff, an executive with extensive experience in manufacturing and distribution, acquired the company from Alderfer in 2011. Kozloff’s commitment to continue to produce quality dried beef products ensured that retailers, food service distributors, food manufacturers and loyal individual and institutional customers would still have access to their authentic brand.
Although dried beef started as a Pennsylvania Dutch favourite, it has become a food item that is characteristic of the east coast of the United States. With a distribution range from Maine to Florida and into the Midwest as far as Minnesota, Knauss Foods has certainly established itself as a household name. Interestingly, the Midwest market typically offers a jarred beef item as opposed to the authentic dried beef found in the east.
Under Kozloff, the company has evolved. A new business plan and marketing strategy are designed to increase its market reach and to maximize the brand growth of Knauss Foods. The acquisitions and facility expansions, a wider territory for distribution and the development of a loyal customer base have all helped Knauss establish itself as the largest, most respected manufacturer of authentic dried beef.
Many people are unaware of what dried beef is as well as its many uses. With that in mind and to better connect with consumers, the company has rolled out a well designed website and social media campaign – complete with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts – to bring dried beef to the attention of more Americans. Customers are encouraged to submit their favourite dried beef recipes, with many being featured on the website!
Despite increasing beef prices, Knauss Foods is still committed to producing the same quality dried beef that loyal customers continue to use in their recipes. Typical Deli Meats add water and filler to reduce cost. Dried beef loses moisture during the extensive drying process which results in a very dry final product. The process gives the product its extended shelf life and helps to make it such a unique product that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.
The process is what makes authentic dried beef, and Knauss Foods still uses the original 113-year old recipe of slowly curing and drying quality beef to deliver the finest results, proudly 100 percent American made. Robert Longacre, CEO of Knauss Foods shared how it dedicates seven days to slow drying the beef, “We’re the go-to company when people are looking for dried beef. It’s a special process that takes a long time.”
Longacre went on to explain, “I think that our unique process and product demands the local made USA manufacturing. The process is so unique that there are just a handful of people who do it. We like to feel that no one does it better than us, and that’s why we hold the position of number one dried beef company in the marketplace.”
Knauss Foods hand trims its beef to attain consistent quality in its products prior to processing. Once the seven day cooking process is completed, the dried beef is sliced, packaged and sent off for distribution. The product also undergoes rigorous testing to ensure that customers’ demands are met with the highest quality possible, in a consistent manner, each and every time. Knauss Foods certifies its products, standing behind its quality assurance.
Knauss Foods is SQF certified, by the Safe Quality Food Institute. The global accreditation agency verifies the effective implementation of food safety control systems to ensure consumers are guaranteed safe, quality food products.
Vice President of Sales for Knauss Foods Knauss Foods Bill Carter explains, “I think when people consider dried beef, they relate it to Knauss Foods because of the longevity of the company. The quality of the product is consistent; they trust the brand, and they trust our items, and when they are going to make products, they want the very best, and I feel that we are still the traditional dried beef that everyone grew up on.”
Now, Knauss Foods is looking to the younger generations, especially those who live a fast-paced life with little time to cook. Knauss Foods’ microwavable, shelf stable dried beef product can provide an on-the-go type of meal in just two minutes. Its products will fill your belly with comfort food, saving you time without sacrificing quality.
Over the past century, many applications and recipes for dried beef have been developed, including its use in dips, hors d’oeuvres, casseroles and sandwiches. Historically, creamed chipped beef has been a staple in the military. First appearing in the Manual for Army Cooks in 1910, creamed chipped beef recipes have gradually changed to replace the dried beef with hamburger. Knauss Foods would like to bring back the traditional dried beef recipes to Americans, bringing better taste and fewer food-related storage issues.
Besides the Classic and Double Smoked Cryovac Dried Beef Deli Knuckles that come in five to six pound pieces, The Knauss and Carson’s Authentic Sliced Dried Beef is also offered in three and four ounce packages; Knauss also offers three, twenty-four and fifty pound boxes for food service and commercial customers; Knauss Creamed Chipped Beef comes in a ten ounce shelf stable package and can be ready in only two minutes!
In addition to its own brand of dried beef products, Knauss Foods also makes branded and private label salty snacks, such as PJ’s High Quality Beef Steak snacks. The high-protein, healthy snack option comes in two styles – slices and tenders – and is proving to be a tender alternative to jerky.
Both Longacre and Carter attribute the company’s success to its unique process that has stood the test of time, and to its dedicated employees. Knauss employees enjoy what they do, are very knowledgeable and take great pride in their work. Knauss employees have an average tenure of thirteen years, a statistic unheard of in the meat manufacturing business.
Knauss Foods is a very proud company: proud of the quality dried beef it produces, proud of the employee culture it has created and sustained, proud of its longevity and history and proud of its dedication to producing quality dried beef products.