The loin section contains some of the most popular cuts of pork and is generally where the most expensive cuts come from. Major retail and retail cuts that originate from this section include the tenderloin, back rib, sirloin and loin eye muscle, also known as the longissimus. The loin primal commonly represents approximately 20% of the carcass however this can fluctuate depending on a number of factors such as seasonality, carcass utilization or end-user specification.
When merchandising the loin for chops or roasts, each section can be further classified based on its position in the loin. Starting from the front of the carcass and moving towards the leg, these sections are identified as the rib-end, centre-cut and sirloin end. Each of these sections have unique characteristics that will lend themselves to different applications and are generally priced accordingly.
First, the tenderloin is removed from the loin, taking care to separate along the natural seam that connects this muscle to the loin. A relatively small muscle, the tenderloin generates one of the highest premiums in the carcass.
At this point, the sirloin, or buckeye can be removed and can be left as is or alternatively sold as a boneless item. The sirloin is the end portion of the loin that connects this section to the leg and removal of this item creates what is known as a short-cut pork loin.
Ribs obtained from the loin are known as back ribs, as opposed to those from the belly which are known as side ribs. The bones, or ribs of back ribs are smaller and more rounded in cross section than those of side ribs.
These bones that are present in back ribs are the same as are found in bone-in pork loin chops. Back ribs tend to demand a greater price than side ribs as they are commonly more tender and have a greater meat to bone ratio. Once separated from the loin and before they can be properly merchandised, the back rib tail, or button bones, are removed and sold separately.
With the removal of the sirloin, the back rib and the pork tenderloin, the remaining portion is known as a boneless short cut pork loin. This is a cut that is commonly used for boneless loin chops and roasts or further processed to make value added items such as peameal bacon. Finally, by removing the belly strip and false lean from the loin, a cut known as a main muscle is produced.
Stay tuned for the next edition of the newsletter, which will focus on merchandising the pork shoulder!