When the calendar hits December 1, it’s time to start checking to see if we made the “nice” list or not! (I have confirmed my status…how about you!?!) As 2015 comes to a close, we also pause to reflect on the significant events that have shaped our industry this year, and consider how they might impact 2016. As I look back across the major headlines from the past year, three main themes seem to form:
- Prices/Supply – Oh, what a roller coaster ride 2015 has been! Beef prices found new ceilings, pork prices leveled out before taking a nose dive the last few weeks. Was any topic more talked about in the media and meat company board rooms across the country this past year? The good news is that 2016 is bringing greener pastures, literally, thanks to much-needed rain, so more cows are being retained. Pork producers are also breathing a sigh of relief that the PEDv outbreak is behind them. The conditions are ripe for increases in supply with less volatile pricing, and that is something we can all be thankful for!
- Niches – We live in a world where specialization is becoming the norm, not the exception, and this trend has resulted in niche meat brands and products that cater to specific lifestyle and dietary needs. For some consumers, antibiotic-free is a trigger; for others, it’s animal welfare. We stopped selling one-size-fits-all meat a while ago, and in 2015 we saw further fragmentation. It will serve us well to figure out which niches are feasible to cater to and then build the brands and products to meet those needs.
- Health/Wellness – 2015 brought its share of headlines that tied meat with health, like whether lean meat would still be part of the Dietary Guidelines or the IARC’s report that processed meat causes cancer. But when we’re talking about meat and health, let’s not forget protein. “Protein” is a word we have to continue fighting to own. Meat is the ultimate source of protein, and if you are not calling that out in your consumer messaging, it is time to get on the bandwagon.
As we wrap up 2015, I encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking of the ramifications of these themes. In order for us to succeed in 2016, we have to keep our pulse on what consumers are doing and what is influencing their behaviors. What do you think? Do you agree with my assessment or did I miss something? What do you think the main headlines will be in 2016? I always appreciate your comments.
Cheers to 2016!