TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Falls Brand Independent Meat Company was founded in 1904 and has been serving the Magic Valley and other parts of the nation for over a century. The holiday season is typically their busiest time of the year, but like many other businesses, they're facing a whole new challenge with COVID.
While the company provides various meat products ranging from sausage to bacon, one specific product tends to stand out from the rest during Christmas time: their ham!
"During the holidays, everybody's got to have ham," says John Howard, Falls Brand's Vice President of Sales & Marketing.
More than 230 employees work at Falls Brand, bringing in around 750 hogs per day. To prepare the meat, especially the ham, they go through a rigorous, multi-day process to ensure the products are store-ready.
"You're probably looking at about five to seven days between processing the ham, smoking it, cooling it, boxing it, or if we have to further process it, i.e., cut it in half. So like, the hams we're processing today, they're going to be in a local store sometime next week," said Howard.
The three prominent hams that Falls Brand tends to see purchased the most during this time of year are its Tavern Ham, Pitt Ham, and Bone-in Ham.
The company says despite the pandemic, they've stayed busy and are even ahead in production compared to previous years. They say COVID restrictions forcing people to limit their social gathering sizes may have helped.
"Holiday season is our busiest time of year. This year, we've been super busy since about March, and we haven't slowed down," says Howard. "I think, with a lot of families that are not having their big get-togethers, they're more stay at home get-togethers, and that's actually increased the demand for hams."
Even with such high demand, Falls Brand is still looking to do their part and help other organizations throughout the community feed residents with ham and other products.
"We're giving more on the back into like the senior centers and salvation army and whatnot and churches and the vets. We get requests all the time. It's daily, people wanting hams for some organization, and right now we can't make them fast enough," said Howard.
The company did want to stress that even though they are receiving requests from other organizations for food, anyone who has pre-purchased meat will still get their product.
Terry Whited says he's been receiving Falls Brand products for over a decade through his employer.
"I have been with Reeder's Flying Service for 13 years, and they have given us hams every Christmas since I've been there," Whited tells Idaho News 6.
Just like years prior, the work that Falls Brand has been putting in is much appreciated, especially being able to support so many families during such trying times.
"We're one of the ones that usually have a big Christmas party, and due to the COVID case, we're not having that this year. So I'm sure more of the employees will keep their hams," said Whited.
If you'd like to purchase meat products for the holiday season, be sure to check out the Falls Brand website.