2018 Meat Industry Headlines

Wow, what a year! Change. Growth. Success. 2018 had it all.  Let’s take a minute to recap the themes of this year’s biggest meat industry stories. And look ahead to see how they’ll shape 2019.

1. Positioning Protein Alternatives: Protein alternatives (including the diets that go with them) are here to stay. And it’s not just vegetarians exploring this category. Meat eaters are also weighing their options at the meat case. The key to tackling this disruptive trend is to not be antagonistic toward it, but instead find a way to coexist. Of course, that doesn’t mean we stop passionately marketing proteins. Take a look at how you can best position your brand to not just weather this change, but to grow and outlast future disruptions. And protein alternatives will no doubt face their own set of challenges. Looking ahead, rules and regulations regarding the terminology that can and cannot be used to market these products are coming. In fact, the USDA and FDA have already said that they will have joint oversight over this new category — just another example of how outside of the norm these meat alternative products are. But that won’t stop the push to complete a total replication of meat proteins. The question is, “Are your products positioned to win during this time of exploration?”

Outlook for 2019: Count on the battle for the center of the plate to continue to be a challenge that cannot be ignored but can be won.

Dive deeper with these articles:

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Meat: The Benefits of the ‘Real Deal’

I love animals; they’re delicious. For me, this is more than a bumper sticker slogan; it’s a way of life.

Growing up on a beef cattle farm in Georgia, no meal made it to the table without some form of animal protein on it. There was always plenty of ground beef (read: cull cows) from our freezer along with fried chicken and smoked pork BBQ. The only “alternative protein” in our house was ground venison from my Dad’s occasional hunting trip that Mom would sneak into spaghetti or lasagna. I spent the first 18 years of my career in the meat business as a proud global ambassador for the Certified Angus Beef® brand. Today, I’m raising two little boys in Alabama who love smoked tri-tip as much as they love Cheerios and mac and cheese.

Not surprisingly, as a loud and proud voracious carnivore, I have very mixed feelings about the alternative proteins coming onto the market. While I’ll grudgingly admit that we need to co-exist with these new competitors (some of my favorite Millennials are even trying them!), the fact is they are coming after our hard-earned meat consumers. Now, I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal who likes to obsess over my clients rather than my competitors, so I usually don’t spend a lot of energy worrying about what the competition is up to. But we know that these trendy plant-based (and soon cell-based) protein players are pouncing on the 23 percent of current meat eaters who would like to eat a less-meat-oriented diet. * So, how do we as a meat industry fight to keep meat on the plate? I have two tried-and-true answers that play to our strengths and they are precisely the reasons why consumers love meat:  taste and nutrition.

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A Millennial’s Two Cents on Meat Alternatives


I am a 90’s baby, loved and known by all as a “Millennial.” I quote the late Kurt Cobain, frontman for Nirvana, not only for the generational icon he is but because he said it best, he said it for all of us and at times he had us screaming it at the top of our lungs, “Here we are now — entertain us.”

Although Cobain’s quote is a generalization, it accurately reflects a Millennial’s expectation of the world at large, and this includes the grocery landscape. As a twenty-something consumer navigating the shopper’s journey, I find myself attracted to stores that combine a sense of entertainment with high-quality products to help elevate my grocery shopping experience. What our mothers thought of as a dreaded chore, we Millennials view as an opportunity to be engaged.

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Weather the Next Economic Storm with Strategic Planning

Those of us in the meat industry usually don’t have the luxury of taking time to contemplate our next move. Prior to joining Midan, I lived in the bullpen of a beef processing facility as well as regularly negotiated sales from my office on four wheels and my other office in the sky. From moving boxes to foodservice and filling containers destined for international ports, my “strategic plan” usually consisted of fulfilling orders one week at a time. The gratification of selling product consumes you and you constantly see-saw between being stressed and being on an adrenaline high to sell that next container NOW. Because at the end of the day, you are only as good as your last sale. For most of us, to hit the pause button and sit in a room to strategically map out the next sales cycle or the next six to 12 months is absurd. Who’s got time for that? Hey, we all know the holidays rule the sales cycle. If you know your core customers’ merchandising set for the quarter and you know your supply numbers and are priced just right, what more do we need to talk about?

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What We Can Learn from the Grassfed Movement: Amplify to Multiply

The Grassfed Movement has got it going on.

Recent Nielsen data tells the story of grassfed beef’s dramatic domestic growth: U.S. retail sales of labeled fresh grassfed beef grew from $17 million in 2012 to $272 million in 2016, doubling every year.

But beyond these impressive numbers, I recently saw firsthand how the commitment and passion of grassfed producers and processors are helping fuel this momentum when I attended the 2018 Grassfed Exchange in Rapid City, South Dakota. At this conference for regenerative producers and sustainable food supporters, more than 500 individuals from 41 states, four Canadian provinces, two Australian territories, New Zealand, England and Denmark gathered to talk about the future of grassfed beef.

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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.

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Top Six Meat Industry Trends

The Midan Team at the 2018 NAMI
Meat Industry Summit

There’s a saying in the Midan office: “What got us here, won’t get us there.” It’s a reminder that we need to keep our game sharp to compete in the ever-evolving meat industry. It was in that same vein that my partner Danette Amstein and I presented the top meat industry trends at the 2018 North American Meat Institute (NAMI) Meat Industry Summit in San Antonio in April. When the finish line is always moving, keeping your eye on these macro trends is one way to set yourself up for success in 2020 and beyond:

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Are You “Brand Safe”?


As a meat processor, you stake your reputation on the quality and safety of your products. You wouldn’t dream of letting meat leave your plant without following every safety precaution to the letter of the law. Unfortunately, many companies aren’t as careful about maintaining the safety of their brand. Although intangible, your brand reputation requires the same kind of stringent safeguards that protect your meat products.

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AMC 2018 Top 10

At Annual Meat Conference (AMC) 2018, digital dominated. How today’s meat consumers are using digital to plan, purchase and prepare meals was the unifying theme that coursed through nearly every session. As always, the Midan team was on the scene to sift through all the learnings and compile our annual list of top takeaways. See below for our most meaningful nuggets, with the influence of digital leading the pack.

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At Midan, What We Do Is Who We Are

danette-amstein's-feedlot

Danette often returns to her roots on her family’s cattle farm in Kansas.

Happy New Year! It’s only the second week of 2018, but some of us (no names mentioned!) might already be wavering on those ambitious resolutions we made to do more of “this” and less of “that” in the coming year.

While the new year offers a chance to start fresh, it’s also an opportunity to re-commit to the causes we hold dear. For those of us in the meat business, this is a pivotal time to rededicate ourselves to an industry we love that is facing intense upheaval. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that 2018 is poised to disrupt the status quo: meat itself is no longer “meat” (“fake meat” is not “fake news”!) and the Amazon fall-out is far from over. (Read my headlines blog to get my take on the trends to watch.)

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