Archives for January 2015

2015 Trends

Just like you, I’ve been reading about 2015’s proposed “top trends” to figure out which ones matter to the meat industry.  While some of the more far-fetched trends are quite entertaining, here are the three that strike me as most likely to have industry-wide implications this year and beyond.  Let me know if you agree.

crystal ball

  1. Meat case demographics are shifting… again

Two significant population shifts are resulting in smaller U.S. households:  more single Americans1, and more aging Americans2.  As more young adults put off marriage and greater numbers of adults transition to senior citizen status, the make-up of the meat case shopper base is once again in flux.  These “bookend” population groups aren’t looking for family packs or large roasts for dinner; rather, they need meals to feed one or two.
The old adage “Give the customer what he wants” has never been more relevant.  Retailers and packers should consider packaging smaller portions for a variety of cuts, not just expensive middle meats.  It’s also a prime time to think about vacuum-packaged  individual servings, sold inside a bigger bag, so customers have the option to use some now and some next week.

  1. A little consumer education about meat can save a lot of dough…

Did you see the recent Meatingplace article about University of Missouri researchers investigating how light affects ground beef packages? The goal of the study is to figure out how to retain ground beef’s bright red color.  As retailers know all too well, markdowns cost millions of annual lost revenue.
We’ve all winced when we’ve heard focus group respondents claim the meat industry “dyes” its meat.  If color is the second highest consideration for fresh ground beef (after price), educating consumers about what’s in the “normal” range for fresh beef should be a priority for our industry.  Just like campaigns for safe cooking temperatures, a program aimed at teaching consumers what an acceptable beef color range is could have multiple payoffs.  Of course scientific research is extremely important, but an education component can also go a long way toward helping consumers be less wasteful at home and retailers maximize profits at the meat case.  If you want proof that a consumer campaign can keep tons of food from being wasted, check out the award-winning “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” campaign by Intermarche, the third largest grocery chain in France.

  1. Meat is on the move. Where will it land?

Inquiring minds want to know… could meat lose its prime entrée position? The Wall Street Journal recently noted, “Chefs around the country, and the globe, are pushing meat from the center of the plate – and sometimes off it altogether.”  Vegetables, my friends, are the new “it” food.  Foodservice is driving this trend, as chefs embrace veggie-inspired dishes and give them high-profile status on their menus. While some in our industry might say that we need to defend meat’s rightful spot, I say hold on a minute.  We’ve always shared the plate with veggies; they’ve been meat’s sidekick since forever.   (Think “meat and potatoes!”)  While I certainly don’t want to relinquish the center of the plate, or heaven forbid, give up the plate altogether, I doubt this current fascination with broccoli and carrots is the biggest threat to meat.  In my opinion, other issues like high beef pricing and consumers actively reducing their meat intake are contributing to this trend and are more likely to have longer-term effects on our industry.

On the plus side, meat byproducts are experiencing a reincarnation of sorts that is worth watching.  Bone broth is becoming very popular, thanks in part to the Paleo diet craze; Time even featured the simple soup in a full-page article in its January 26 issue.  Bone broth is rich in minerals and Omega 3, 6 and 9, and fans swear by its nutritional value, healing powers and beauty benefits.

These trends remind those of us in the meat industry that we need to look outward as much as inward, and take note of what is swirling around us that could shape our future.  What other trends should we be focused on in 2015?  Add your comments below – I’d love to discuss!

1In 1976, 37% of US adults were single; currently, about half of US adults are single – that’s the highest percentage in the past 40-odd years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read the Bloomberg article.

2In the next fifteen years, the number of Americans age 65 and older will have doubled from 2000 figures.  Review the Administration on Aging statistics.

Meat Shopping Mom on a Mission

Meat Shopping with Midan Blog

This is the second post in our new “Meat Shopping with Midan” series. In each entry, a Midan team member shares insights into how they shop for groceries and meat, based on their lifestyle and personal interests.

For those of us who work with Meredith, a Midan Account Executive, hearing she is an organized, plan-ahead shopper is no surprise. Meredith’s inbox is the envy of the office; all of her emails are neatly categorized and filed. As we learn below, she approaches the grocery store in a similarly-sensible way.

My name is Meredith, and I am a working mom.

Like so many moms, I have many jobs. Because I work outside the home, I regularly juggle office responsibilities with household chores. Right along with laundry, dishes and vacuuming, grocery shopping is one of the many tasks that fills my time each week. No matter how much I plan, I usually start another grocery list within hours of my most recent trip.

In order to make this never-ending task more effective (and bearable!), I’ve devised a few strategies that help me make the most of my limited time. As a mom with a toddler and a new baby coming soon, grocery shopping for me is all about convenience, budgeting and planning.

i. I try to be a smart shopper when it comes to “when” and “where.”

Living in a small town in North Carolina, there aren’t too many shopping options close by. My top stops are my area supercenter and local grocery store, with the occasional pop-in at the nearby discount grocer, because it is literally within walking distance from my house (and the milk is super cheap). I choose a time that isn’t too busy, if possible, and try to get in and out quickly, especially when my energetic toddler is with me. I often write my grocery list in order of the store shopping pattern to help with efficiency.

ii. I keep my grocery list flexible for sale items.

Another key factor in my grocery shopping is budget. My family is pretty easy to please when it comes to food choices, so I tend to plan meals around what’s on sale that week or just stock up when things I know we use are on sale.

iii. I stock up.

I buy meat in bulk or on sale and freeze it so I have it on hand. The main meats I purchase are ground beef, beef roast, pork chops and chicken breasts. Pork tenderloin, beef cube steak and strip steaks are more occasional purchases for me. My local grocery store recently added a section of custom meals in the fresh meat case that require only 30 minutes of cooking time. For me, that’s dinner on the table in half an hour tops! We have tried their burgers with bacon and cheese, kabobs and parmesan chicken and they have all been very good. I am willing to pay a little bit more for the convenience of having the meat meal-ready.

When canned goods or snack items are on sale, I stock up. I also participate in the supercenter’s savings program and like knowing they are comparing prices to other stores, so I save money with no extra effort!

We eat most of our meals at home, and I cook a lot, so a well-stocked pantry keeps me from constantly running to the store. When I have time, I try to look ahead to our week. I don’t necessarily plan meals for each day, but I try to have all ingredients on hand for when the next meal is needed.

iv. I don’t fight it – I admit Mom has had a major impact on my shopping habits.

I’ve noticed I do a lot of what my mom does when it comes to cooking and shopping, just because I’ve watched her do it for so many years. (And, let’s face it: I realize I am becoming my mother!). I buy certain brands and sale items because my mom does.

v. I do leftovers!!

There is nothing better than coming home from work and heating something up vs. starting from scratch. Lasagna, casseroles, roasts, soups, anything in the crockpot – I like making something we can have for at least two meals. And, when my plan fails, I always keep a frozen pizza ready.

Even a super-organized person needs a back-up plan.


Read the meat shopping blog from our PR Manager Caroline Ahn – she’s a suburbanite!






Out of the Frying Pan…

The day lean meat became insignificant in America’s diet

I finished reading in disbelief.

Meatingplace’s article on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) detailed an eleventh-hour, closed-door decision to remove lean meat from the list of foods being recommended as part of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines healthy foods list.

This astonishing action by the DGAC could have far-reaching, drastic implications for the meat industry, and it’s time for us to speak out against these shady, backroom politics.

The Dietary Guidelines are developed every five years as a healthy eating guide for Americans. They also help our government make decisions about school lunch program purchases and other food, nutrition and education policies regarding healthy eating. Daily consumption of meat has been included in the Dietary Guidelines recommendations since the first edition was introduced in 1980. These guidelines are developed by a respected DGAC based on an extensive review of scientific evidence that meat is one of the most nutrient-dense sources of protein and other important nutrients, including zinc, iron and B-vitamins.

I guess I shouldn’t have been baffled at how the current DGAC could decide it is appropriate to strip lean meat from its recommendations. It is clear that some of the committee members have radical viewpoints that aren’t grounded in fact-based science. It seems these individuals were able to sway the other members of the committee, making it acceptable to incorporate personal opinions into government recommendations regarding the makeup of a healthy diet for the American population.

This bold move by the DGAC should be another wake up call to our industry. Those organizations and individuals who want to eliminate meat production and consumption continue to hold sway over how our industry does business. Not only are they working to change consumers’ opinions about farming and production practices in order to influence how we produce and market our livestock, they now appear to be in a position to make government recommendations regarding what we should  eat.

We as an industry must continue to be vigilant in conducting sound scientific research that shows the nutritional value of meat, and use that data to educate consumers (and our government, it appears!) about meat’s role in a healthy diet. If you have such research to share at this time, or you too feel that the current DGAC is way off base in removing lean meat from its 2015 dietary guidelines recommendations, I urge you to stand up and make your voice heard.

Please take some time to review the DGAC’s recommendations and industry comments on the website. Then work within your organization and in cooperation with other industry agencies to monitor the timing of the Federal Register’s announcement of the final comment period, and submit comments that support the continued inclusion of lean meats as a necessary part of the dietary guidelines.

I believe this is truly an industry turning point. If we don’t want it to be a tipping point, we must not allow the current recommendations to stand.


Helpful Links

Details about the dietary guidelines development process can be found here:

During the December 15 DGAC meeting, the committee voted to approve as its final recommendations for a healthy dietary pattern, a diet that did not include lean meat. Following the meeting, interested parties were given until December 30 to comment. If you’d like to review the comments submitted, they can be found here:

According to the website on the guideline, the DGAC’s recommendations will be submitted to the Secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture in early 2015. Once submitted, a Federal Register notice will be published announcing the availability of the recommendations, and another open comment period will be announced along with a date for a public meeting to provide comments to the Federal Government on the report.