(Indianapolis, IN) - Duck has received top billing this year over other products made statewide. Maple Leaf Farms, the nation’s largest duck producer, is now flapping its wings. Its fully cooked roast half duck is the winner of the second annual “Coolest Thing Made in Indiana” contest sponsored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Maple Leaf Farms has contracts with about 150 farmers who raise ducks across northern Indiana for the company to process. Company spokesperson Janelle Deatsman said it takes only about 20 minutes of being in an oven for the half-roast duck to be ready to eat. The product is sold to restaurants, grocery stores, and online.
According to the ICC, there were 54 companies that make anything from racing tires to children’s car seats and wine in the contest. One entry was a maker of replicas of the Batmobile, the car made famous by the television and movie superhero Batman. The winner was chosen from votes cast online after the contest was promoted on social media.
John Tucker, Co-President of the Leesburg-based operation, said it was a fitting award for a longstanding flagship product of the company that grew in popularity during the pandemic as consumers looked for simple to prepare, restaurant-quality foods to serve at home.
“We really felt a surge in retail and online sales,” Deatsman said.
In 1958, Donald Wentzel started what was then a small duck-raising operation in northern Indiana. Maple Leaf Farms has gone from raising 280,000 ducks the following year to about 10 million ducks annually and being the primary reason more ducks come out of Indiana than any other state.
Deatsman said Maple Leaf Farms distributes cooked and uncooked ducks, both fresh and frozen, along with other duck products across the nation and worldwide. In addition to whole ducks, their products include duck breasts, duck legs, ground duck, and duck appetizers. Deatsman also noted that feathers from the processed ducks are taken to another company-owned plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan for processing into fiber used in products like pillows and comforters.
The half ducks are roasted at a plant the company built in nearby Milford nearly a half-century ago. Deatsman said the company also has an online store and provides various recipes for duck, posted on the company's webpage highlighting the meat's versatility ranging in anything from salads to tacos.
“It’s a very convenient, very versatile product,” she said.