Archives for June 2017

Urban Eclectics, Demystified

Jo Ann and Joseph

Jo Ann with her son Joseph, her favorite Urban Eclectic

I have raised an Urban Eclectic. I am not exactly sure how it happened: one day I was doling out Cheerios to an infant in a high chair and the next I was sitting across from a 23-year-old eating kimchi for breakfast.

If you’re not familiar with Midan’s recent Meat Consumer Segmentation research yet, Urban Eclectics are one of six distinct meat consumer groups. Each consumer segment is unique with its own way of thinking about and eating meat. Urban Eclectics tend to be younger, urban, upscale and have families with children. Forty-one percent of them are Millennials (21-34 years old) and slightly more than half are male. You can also define Urban Eclectics by what they care about: novelty, variety, convenience, healthiness and animal welfare.

Based on these characteristics, it didn’t take long for me to realize that my son is likely an Urban Eclectic, although he’s on the younger end of the spectrum and doesn’t have any children. He just finished his first year of law school.

Growing up, Joseph was firmly in the “Picky Eater” segment; his diet consisted mainly of chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese along with a few vegetables forced upon him by his mother. His taste in food has evolved gradually and by necessity. When he studied abroad in England one semester in college, food was so expensive there he bought a frying pan and learned to sauté beef and chicken for himself. This is the generation that is least educated about how to prepare meat, so if you give him a slab of protein that he can throw in the skillet or toss on the grill, he’s good to go. (I recently shared the NAMI Meat Up app with him so he could be more knowledgeable at the meat case.)

Two weeks ago my husband and I spent the weekend with him in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he has a summer law internship. Chattanooga is a neat little town; it has a scenic waterfront and a hip downtown with a cool mix of restaurants and breweries. In other words, it’s a natural habitat for Urban Eclectics.

When we arrived late Friday evening, Joseph told us that he had eaten dinner earlier at Whole Foods, where he dined on pork barbeque, roasted chicken and (gasp!) vegetables. Even though they tend to be price-conscious, Urban Eclectics place a high value on convenient meal solutions and grocers that offer fresh food, fast get their business. Why make dinner when someone else can make it for you? (This philosophy worked extremely well for my son for the first 18 years of his life.)

So think about this: Urban Eclectics comprise 33% of total meat eaters, and they are often grabbing dinner from the prepared foods case, not the meat case. One recent study states that 54% of Millennials eat out at least three times a week. Traditional meat marketing just won’t cut it with this crew, because they aren’t shopping the meat case regularly. Urban Eclectics do value in-store displays to help them make choices and get ideas, but first you’ve got to get them to the back of the store. One way to reach them is online; not surprisingly, they are the heaviest users of internet to help make pre-shopping decisions.

Urban Eclectics also care about eating “real” foods. (As a mother who made dinner just about every night, this makes me chuckle. Leave it to this younger generation to think they discovered home cooking.)

When heading out for breakfast before we left Chattanooga, my husband suggested we eat at Panera so we could get on the road quickly. Joseph was horrified. Nothing against Panera, but why go there when you can check out one of the local eateries with more “authentic” choices? We wound up at a delightful breakfast spot, where, along with your standard eggs and pancakes, you could get a breakfast rice bowl. My son ordered the Asian Breakfast Bowl with jasmine rice, glazed pork belly, house kimchi, house pickles, toasted sesame seeds and a soft boiled egg. Let’s just say, we were a million miles from Panera.

When I said eating pickles for breakfast was weird, he replied, “I don’t eat weird things; I eat normal things at weird times.” He has a point. Urban Eclectics are changing the rules of what to eat, when to eat and where to eat, and the meat industry will need to pay attention to stay tuned in to this aptly named, important group of meat consumers.

So, the long and short of it is, if you can find the perfect mix of “real” and “real convenient,” then you will have hooked the Urban Eclectics. Kids these days… they want it all, don’t they?

Learn more about Urban Eclectics and the other meat consumer segments.

Everything Old is New Again: Trends from NRA 2017

Maggie with chef Curtis Stone

Sometimes the more you look back, the further ahead you can see. This was certainly the case for the exhibiting meat companies at this year’s National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. They demonstrated that the U.S. meat industry is staying “Ahead of the Crave” by returning to time-honored traditions that bring out the very best in our products. And the local hotspots in Chicago are completely in sync with this movement, with over-the-top meals that make us remember why we love meat.

Here are the top trends from the show and around town that stood out to this full-on foodie:

  1. The Face of the Brand: Chefs love knowing the purveyors who pour their heart and soul into their products. No one can tell their company story and family legacy of hand-crafted quality like Fred Linz and Cristiano Creminelli. The Meats by Linz and Creminelli booths showcased not only both companies’ premium product lines but also photos of the owners who have dedicated their lives to making the meat business better.
  2. Old-World Artisanal Craftsmanship: You can’t hurry the creation of world-class smoked meats. Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon is known around the world for its amazing taste and quality but perhaps Nueske’s most important ingredient is patience: the slow-burning embers – not flames – of applewood yield that amazing flavor. Cooper’s Country Meat Packers celebrates its “low and slow” tradition of smoking its sausages in a real hickory-burning smokehouse in Florence, Mississippi. The authenticity of these brands is what consumers crave!
  3. Marcus Girard holding his prized culatello

  4. Intensification of Flavors: Time is also the key ingredient behind the art and science of charcuterie, which was on full display at the show from companies such as Zoe’s, Creminelli, Olli, and Alef. I loved spending time with Marcus Girard, salumiere of Tempesta Artisan Salumi in the Premier Proteins booth; he gave me an education about culatello (a very special cured and long-aged ham) which he calls the “epitome of the passion of crafting salumi.” Dry-aged beef is another “old but modern” trend that keeps getting play among high-end steakhouses like Swift & Sons, who featured a mouthwatering umami-filled 18-ounce bone-in strip steak from Meats by Linz.
  5. The Nos Have It: Celebrating and showcasing what’s not in our meat is as important as what is in it. “Pork, salt, and spices” were the main ingredients in Jones’ Dairy Farm’s sausage in 1889 and not a lot has changed since then. This is a great thing for consumers’ taste buds and Jones is one of many meat companies who are ahead of the clean label craze.
  6. Everything Tastes Better with Pork: All of us meatheads need a little surf to balance our turf so my last night in Chicago found me at Chef Giuseppe Tentori’s GT Fish & Oyster. I was delighted to find Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon in my clam chowder and pork chicharron topping my fish tacos! Even the seafood restaurants can’t resist pork to bring out the best in their dishes.
  7. Animal Fat is Back: My favorite meal while dining in Chicago occurred at a cool hipster joint located in Logan Square called Longman & Eagle. The meal was compliments of Shawn Peerless, the chief operating officer and third generation owner of Atlantic Veal & Lamb and my new foodie friend who lives in NYC. Folks, this was a culinary exploration of animal fat like no other that would make Nina Teicholz proud. We enjoyed salted beef rinds, fried lamb necks, meatballs, chicken liver pate, a flat iron with beef tallow béarnaise, beef fat fries, bone marrow with bacon jam and pork jowl! Fat is flavor and this was by far my most flavorful meal of 2017.
  8. Let’s Talk Healthy: Both traditional meat companies and newer-to-the-game “alternative meat” companies are adapting to consumer demand for food options that meet their health and wellness goals: pea-protein burgers, chicken and quinoa burgers and all sorts of plant-based proteins were on display at the show.

As for this confirmed carnivore, please give me the “real deal”; I am all about that animal protein. We didn’t claw ourselves to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables! There are so many delicious meat delicacies to be consumed, and I am happy to report that the meat companies exhibiting at NRA 2017 did not disappoint.