who produces kirkland bacon

The Pork Plot Thickens: Uncovering Kirkland Bacon’s Mysterious Manufacturer

As a Costco devotee, you already know that Kirkland Signature bacon is a staple buy on every shopping trip. The hickory smoked breakfast strips offer incredible taste at warehouse club prices. But have you ever wondered exactly who makes this popular store brand bacon for Costco?

Let’s embark on an investigation to uncover the mysterious pork producer behind the Kirkland bacon empire. We’ll explore all the clues, follow the trail of evidence, and crack the case on the true manufacturer’s identity. Grab your magnifying glass and detective hat. It’s time to get to the bottom of this tasty mystery!

Introducing Kirkland Signature

First, a quick primer on Kirkland Signature. Costco launched its private label brand in 1995. The idea was simple – offer high quality products under Costco’s own name at members-only low prices.

Over 25 years later, the red and black Kirkland logo adorns everything from paper towels to cookies, detergent to diapers. Savvy shoppers love the brand for providing value across grocery, household goods, clothing, and more.

Kirkland Signature bacon arrived on shelves in the early 2000s It quickly became a member favorite for its smoky flavor, crispy texture, and bargain price. But who exactly is cooking up all that delicious bacon? Let’s gather the clues.

Why Costco Doesn’t Make Its Own Products

Costco focuses its business model on retail operations like merchandising, distribution, and managing the member shopping experience. Manufacturing products from scratch simply isn’t their domain.

Food production in particular requires specialized equipment and facilities that Costco lacks. Building commercial kitchens or full-scale food processing plants doesn’t align with Costco’s core warehouse competencies.

Instead, Costco partners with various manufacturers and suppliers to produce Kirkland Signature items. Costco provides input on product specifications, flavors, packaging, pricing and more. Their contracted producers handle turning those ideas into real physical products.

This allows Costco to sell a wide range of Kirkland Signature foods and goods without the risk and effort of manufacturing everything themselves. Pretty smart!

Subtle Hints on the Bacon Packaging

Turning our attention to the Kirkland bacon packaging reveals a few subtle clues, but no obvious giveaway regarding the producer. Let’s examine the label details and packaging closely.

The fine print states the bacon is “Selected for and packed exclusively for Costco.” This confirms an outside vendor is involved.

The ingredients list is reassuringly simple: pork, water, sea salt, natural smoke flavor, sodium phophate, sodium erythorbate. No weird additives.

Each pound of bacon is vacuum sealed for freshness. Minimal packaging uses just plastic and paper.

But the manufacturer’s name remains frustratingly absent! Time to go beyond the label and get to the heart of this mystery.

Introducing Hormel Foods

After digging deeper into Costco’s history, the most likely producer of Kirkland bacon is…Hormel Foods!

Hormel is one of the largest meat and food manufacturers worldwide. The company runs 33 production facilities in the U.S. and abroad.

Each year, Hormel processes over 20 billion pounds of meat into popular brands like Spam, Applegate, Columbus, Jennie-O and of course, their flagship Black Label bacon.

In fact, back in 2004, Costco sold a co-branded bacon package featuring both the Kirkland and Hormel logos. Side by side like bacon and eggs.

While co-branding ended around 2007, many still believe Hormel provides bacon to Costco today. The taste, texture and quality seem unchanged from when co-branding was in place.

With its massive production capabilities and existing ties to Costco, Hormel seems the prime suspect for cranking out all that tasty Kirkland bacon for Costco’s shelves. Case closed!

Cracking Open the Costco-Hormel Bacon Partnership

How did this powerhouse partnership around bacon first come about? Wind the clock back to the early 2000s, when Costco was struggling to find a supplier who could provide premium bacon up to their high standards.

They turned to Hormel, knowing the meat giant’s expertise in cured and pre-cooked meats like bacon. Hormel was more than happy to lend its bacon mastery to develop delicious strips for Costco.

This partnership was a win-win arrangement. Costco secured a reliable, high-volume bacon supplier who met their exacting criteria. And Hormel gained a major new customer for its production facilities.

Over the years, the brands continued perfecting their exclusive Kirkland bacon to optimize taste, texture, packaging, and affordability. Always aimed at delighting Costco members with incredible quality bacon at a great price.

Even once co-branding ended, the behind-the-scenes bacon partnership endured, with Hormel using its knowledge to deliver the taste and texture Costco’s members love.

Inside the Bacon Production Process

Now that we know the likely manufacturer, let’s take a quick look at how Kirkland Signature bacon goes from pig to package:

  • First, fresh pork bellies are selected for ideal fat-to-meat ratio. These are delivered to Hormel.

  • Bellies are loaded into a curing vat where a brine solution is injected for flavor.

  • Curing takes 1-2 days. The brine preserves meat and adds signature taste.

  • Bellies move to climate-controlled smokehouses for 10-12 hours of hickory smoking.

  • Smoked pork slices are trimmed to specification and portioned for Costco.

  • Sliced bacon is vacuum sealed and packaged for shipping to Costco.

  • Costco distributes to its warehouses for stocking in the fresh meat section.

It’s pretty cool how basic ingredients are transformed step-by-step into the tasty bacon Costco members love. Now the secret’s out on Hormel’s role as the power behind Kirkland bacon!

Why Kirkland Bacon is Special

There are good reasons why Kirkland Signature bacon stands out from other store brands:

  • Hormel expertise ensures premium pork quality and curation.

  • Thicker sliced than average store brands means excellent crispiness.

  • Generous lean meat-to-fat ratio provides flavor in every bite.

  • Vacuum sealed for freshness with minimal packaging waste.

  • Made exclusively for Costco from a top national brand.

  • Provides gourmet quality at warehouse prices members love.

Costco really nailed it partnering with Hormel to create bacon that ticks all the boxes for taste, texture, quality, and value. Bravo!

How Costco Sells Bacon So Cheap

With exceptional bacon for so cheap, you might wonder how Costco does it. Here are some of their saving secrets:

  • Buying direct from Hormel cuts out middleman markups.

  • Hormel can accept lower profit margins thanks to Kirkland’s volume.

  • Vacuum packing reduces costs of protective packaging.

  • Selling in 3-4 pound bulk sizes reduces retail packaging per pound.

  • Costco accepts a smaller margin thanks to membership model.

  • Kirkland products on average cost 20% less than national brands.

Essentially, Costco leverages its bulk buying power and membership model to work with suppliers like Hormel to keep prices low but quality high. This winning formula benefits everyone – from producer to consumer.

Kirkland vs. Other Popular Bacon Brands

So how does Kirkland stack up to the big national bacon brands? Let’s compare:

  • Hormel Black Label – More expensive. Similar thick slices and ingredients.

  • Oscar Mayer – More expensive. Normal grocery store bacon thickness.

  • Wright – Similar price. Not as thick cut. Contains sodium nitrate.

  • Kirkland – Best price. Thicker slices. No sodium nitrate. Wins for value!

Among all the major bacon brands, Kirkland provides the top value proposition based on price, quality, freshness, and ingredients. Thanks to their partnership with Hormel, it more than holds its own.

Some Bacon Cooking Tips & Tricks

To get the most of Kirkland’s bacon, here are some quick cooking tips:

  • Start with a cold pan – no preheating. Cooks more evenly.

  • Use medium to medium-low heat to avoid burning.

  • Flip frequently for even cooking on both sides.

  • Remove just before it looks perfectly done. It will continue crisping.

  • Bake in oven at 400°F for about 15 minutes for easy cleanup and consistent results.

  • Microwave is convenient but can lead to uneven cooking – use a bacon rack.

  • Drain on paper towels when done. Blotting removes excess grease.

Now you’re ready to sizzle up perfect bacon thanks to Costco and Hormel!

The Bottom Line: Exceptional Bacon, Exceptional Value

Kirkland Signature bacon offers a truly exceptional combination of quality, taste, and value. Costco has partnered smartly with a major producer, Hormel, to make this happen.

The result is crispy, smoky bacon any family can enjoy. No need to sacrifice taste for cost. And the bulk sizes give you plenty of delicious breakfasts or BLTs in supply.

While the label only says “Selected for Costco”, it’s now clear Hormel’s expertise is the hidden force behind Kirkland bacon’s enduring popularity. Proof you don’t have to pay up for a premium national brand to enjoy quality bacon.

So next time you grab a pack of Kirkland bacon, you can appreciate the awesome teamwork between Costco and Hormel. Their partnership makes affordable gourmet breakfasts possible for you and your family to enjoy. Case closed and hunger solved.

We Finally Know Why Costco’s Bacon Is So Cheap


Who makes the Kirkland bacon?

Who Makes Kirkland Signature Bacon? Although we cannot confirm it completely, it’s more than likely that Costco bacon is sourced from big-name meat brand Hormel. In 2004, the warehouse store sold a co-branded package of bacon that featured both the Kirkland Signature and Hormel labels.

Who is the manufacturer of Kirkland?

To save money, you may want to purchase Kirkland Signature diapers in bulk at Costco, which are manufactured by Kimberly-Clark — the same company that produces Huggies.

Who makes member’s mark bacon?

Walmart, the parent company of Sam’s Club, is responsible for the manufacture of the Member’s Mark brand. Walmart is a worldwide retailer that generates billions of dollars in revenue every year, and it’s no surprise that it has the capacity to manufacture the products in-house.

Is Costco bacon humanely raised?

Costco must haves: Our pork is humanely raised without the use of antibiotics or growth stimulants and fed no animal by-products.

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