Tomorrow’s Meat Consumer: Are You Ready?

I recently had the honor of presenting at the 2018 World Meat Congress (WMC) in Dallas on June 1. Hosted by The International Meat Secretariat and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, WMC brought together more than 700 meat industry leaders from 40 countries to discuss the wide-ranging, complex issues impacting meat production across the globe.

My charge was to pinpoint the ways that today’s meat consumers, more demanding and discerning than ever, are driving the trends that are disrupting the industry. Here are the action steps I shared that can help us get ready for (and stay one step ahead of!) tomorrow’s meat eaters:

  1. Drill Down: It’s more critical than ever that we get to the bottom of what makes today’s meat consumers tick. Segmenting and targeting are essential to determine your customers’ values and purchase drivers in order to meet their diverse needs.
    • Due to increasingly different approaches to meat consumption, customization will play an expanding role in product development, sales and marketing. According to the 2018 Power of Meat Study, the “one size fits all” approach must transition to “one size fits one.”
  2. Think Globally: World demographic shifts in population growth, aging, urbanization and the rising middle class will dramatically alter the face of the globe in the coming decades. The balance of international power will also swing:
    • By 2030, Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of gross domestic product, population size and technological investment.
  3. Stand Your Ground: Meat will continue to face threats from alternate protein sources, including the growing number of plant-based and lab-grown products; however, protein is still one of meat’s greatest selling points, and the industry must loudly proclaim the nutritional benefits of meat in order to reclaim ground lost to other protein sources.
    • Today’s meat eaters have an evolving relationship with meat. More than 60% of fresh meat eaters report eating non-meat protein as the “center of the plate” item once to several times per week, according to a 2014 Midan Custom NPD Survey.
  4. Collaborate to Educate: When the meat industry works together, everyone benefits. Universal, “big picture” issues, like sustainability or nutrition, are better tackled by establishing industry-wide standards and/or messages that offer clear guidance to consumers.
    • Recent research by Midan Marketing revealed that only 47% of fresh beef consumers could provide any definition for sustainably raised beef. This is an opportunity to work together so that sustainability doesn’t go the way of the “natural” claim, where multiple industry definitions confused consumers so much that they no longer perceive the value of “natural” products.
  5. Embrace Change: While disruptions to the meat industry can initially wreak havoc, they also offer opportunities for significant advancement.
    • New technology like blockchain and robotics have the capability to revolutionize production, while consumer-driven shifts like the e-commerce boom and rise of alternate proteins are compelling the meat industry to rethink how to more effectively market and merchandise meat products.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how meat consumers are evolving—please leave a comment!

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