Flavor-infused BBQ grilling is one of the hottest cooking trends in the country and now an Adirondack manufacturer is producing apple flavored grilling pellets made with apples from local orchards.
Launched over the summer, Adirondack Grilling Pellets is a new venture for Essex Pallet and Pellet designed to diversify the company’s home heating wood pellet production operation which began last fall. Essex Pallet and Pellet has been owned by Mike Lemza for 17 years and has regional ties to the Adirondacks dating back to the 1960s.
Collaborating with a local apple packaging company, Essex Pallet and Pellet produces three variations of apple flavored grilling pellets by combining sawdust from local maple, cherry and apple trees -- which is a byproduct of the pallet operation- with leftovers from the apple slicing and packaging operation located nearby.
"This product is a great example of local businesses working together to minimize our environmental impact while enhancing the local economy to offer a product that makes sense for the Adirondacks," said Lemza. "By combining our sawdust with their apple waste we're able to produce a viable product.”
Several months of product research and development went into creating Adirondack Grilling Pellets. A team comprised of members from the Small Business Development Center, CITEC, and a paid intern from SUNY Plattsburgh's School of Business worked to determine the product's feasibility. Part of the development included attending a waste minimization seminar hosted by the Regional Wood Products Consortium, a multi-state partnership to facilitate innovation within the wood products sector.
“Like other businesses in the wood products sector, Essex Pallet and Pellet has realized that byproducts can become a profit center,” said Collin Miller, who coordinates the Regional Wood Products Consortium across the four-state region. “But this idea is really breaking new ground and we’re glad we can help the business launch a new money-making opportunity.”
The Regional Wood Products Consortium is a program of the Northern Forest Center, a nonprofit organization that helps communities benefit from forest-based economic and conservation initiatives.
Although wood pallets and pellets for the residential wood-heating market still remain core areas of the business, Adirondack Grilling Pellets are a specialty product for the retail market, which could prove to be profitable.