Anyone else notice Pork shoulders/butts are 'Different'?

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Nov 7, 2016
Houston, Tx
So, i leaned to bbq by using pork shoulders. I don't trim my shoulders or butts, but they usually have enough fat on them that they still come out juicy.

Fast forward to late 2022 and 2023.

The pork shoulders that i have been getting are very lean, and the last few cooks that i've done, the pulled pork actually needed a finishing sauce because it was so dry. I used to see a lot of fat on the bottom side, but nowadays, it's like they're trimming that off. Maybe they're selling it as pork fat, but even when i do snack sticks with beef, and add in a pork shoulder for added weight and fat content, i still have to add fat because theirs not enough fat on the pork shoulder.

Am i going crazy, or does anyone else notice this as well??
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I deal with lots of butts from different companies here at work, I personally haven't seen a difference
From what I've seen working in the grocery, they run hot and cold. We get entire pallets in that have to have 1/2 inch or more trimmed off just to make them presentable. (still have about 1/2 inch after trim). Others are pretrimmed from packer to the point the fat cap is spotty at best. Seems not to matter what packer they come from.
If you are buying the tray packed ones, it could be the meatcutter over trimming them. Some get the idea people want butts super lean looking. If that is the case, ask to see an untrimmed one or butts still in the bag.
If you're having this problem with the ones in the bag, best I can suggest is look them over good before you buy and try another store/chain til you find ones you like.
The vacuum sealed whole butts from Smithfield here are trimmed well, as in no fat cap. However the vacuum packed butts (two to a package) from the restaurant supply store have a nice 1/2” fat cap, much better meat too.
The ones they sell at the stores I shop at still have a generous fat cap same as they always have.
Scrawny ones around here ever since I started making BBB. Even the big 10lb'ers have scant caps. Smithfield fwiw. Couple years ago I was searching for ones with thinner caps. Last couple batches of breakfast sausage have not had enough fat for me. Can cook a panful and the skillet be dry after. Texture not nearly as good.
The butts I get at Costco or Sam's all come with a nice layer of fat.
I'm in Florida for the winter (ends today) and heading north tomorrow.
I get most of my meat from Publix. The butts are trimmed and ground pork is really lean. I asked the meat department if I could get just pork fat trimmings or ground (save me some work) and they said no. They send all the trimmings to the dumpster.
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I asked the meat department if I could get just pork fat trimmings or ground (save me some work) and they said no. They send all the trimmings to the dumpster.
Same with the meat departments here. You can buy all the beef fat you want ......... they usually have it in vac sealed packs in the beef case, but they tell me they are not allowed to sell pork fat. It gets thrown in the trash. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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