Fat is Flavor!

maggie-o'quinnAs a southerner raised in Georgia and now a proud nine-year resident of Alabama, I have enjoyed a lifelong love affair with saturated fat. I live for pork BBQ from local hole-in-the-wall restaurants with dirt floors (my favorite is Fresh Air BBQ in Jackson, GA), CAB® fat-on tri-tips on the grill and my husband’s buttermilk biscuits where lard is the not-so-secret ingredient. And no respectable southerner serves their greens without some saturated fat to make our dishes sing:  We are unapologetic about adding bacon to our kale and ham hocks to our collards.

I was born in 1975 at the time the “war on fat” was raging in our country. But I never understood why saturated fat was considered the evil enemy until I read Nina Teicholz’ book, “The Big Fat Surprise.” Her book is a fascinating dive into the studies that propelled the low-fat diet craze into our modern day lexicon.

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2017 Planning: Take Your Cues from 2016

Ah, fall is finally here!  The temperature has cooled down and that means it’s time for sweatshirts, pumpkin spice hot chocolate and Fantasy Football (Wish me luck — I’m a rookie!). It is also the period when we start mapping out marketing plans for next year.

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In preparation for this blog, I reviewed what I outlined in last year’s planning blog and soon realized that the 7 points that I highlighted for 2016 are more relevant than ever. Some are especially significant now that we are getting a better handle on Millennials’ and Boomers’ meat consumption habits through our recent research. So my advice here is simple: read and repeat! (Just think of that genius marketing phrase from the shampoo bottle: “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.” If something is effective, do it again!)

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Millennials, Unfiltered

My name is Gibson and I’m a Millennial. You’ve seen my name attached to several blogs written from the Millennial perspective. Loyal blog readers have gone grocery shopping with me, grilled ribeyes with me and even sat in a classroom of carcasses with me. I’m a member of the elusive generation that everyone is talking about. The generation old enough to remember the days of dial-up internet, but too young to know a time without Justin Timberlake. The generation that knows Google as a verb and the ‘Gram as something other than a S’mores ingredient. (That’s short for Instagram, for you non-Millennials.) And as the generation of 75 million strong that is approaching its prime spending years and taking its money to the meat counter, it may be time to get to know us.

To better understand generational shopping patterns, Midan conducted a study comparing Millennials and Boomers. These two influential consumer groups were asked about meat consumption, preferences and attitudes toward meat and health, and the results are pretty spot on, according to this Millennial. While some of the findings made me feel like there must have been a hidden camera in my kitchen, others were not as applicable to my eating or shopping habits; however, I can easily see how they would apply to my fellow Millennials.

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Millennials, Boomers and Meat: A Closer Look

We’ve all heard so much about Millennials, you might think you already know everything there is to know about them.  But if you’re still trying to get inside the head of this enigmatic species, we’ve got some intel that can help you engage this elusive target and sell more fresh meat.

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There’s good reason the media has been advising you to pay attention to this consumer segment — Millennials number 75 million strong and know how to make themselves heard.

At Midan, it was only natural that we wanted to learn more about their meat eating habits.  But we also wanted to understand them in context:  how do they purchase meat compared to other consumers?   We decided to study Millennials alongside that other influential generation impacting the meat case in a big way: Baby Boomers.  Millennials have been getting all the attention lately, but it’s the Boomers that have all the money – don’t underestimate their buying power!

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Millennial, Meet Carcass

The last time I was in a classroom, I was analyzing the significance of windows in Wuthering Heights. Three weeks ago, however, I found myself seated in a meat science and technology building with a beef carcass being escorted into the room by an apron-clad man with knives in his tool belt and a hook in his hand. My front row seat was physically and aesthetically miles away from my social media hub back in NC, but there I was at Center of the Plate Training® – trading ‘likes’ for longissimus and Instagram for infraspinatus.

Center of the Plate is a three-day crash course in meat, starting with the leg of a cow and ending at the gill of a snapper. This course is designed to educate members of the meat industry on all center-of-the-plate proteins: beef, veal, lamb and pork, as well as poultry, processed meats and seafood. Attendees were given a copy of The Meat Buyer’s Guide and watched as it came to life, with the Guide acting as our roadmap, Davey Griffin as the driver and Steve Olson as the rambunctious tour guide leading us through this full-immersion experience of converting carcasses into cuts.

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Meat Today’s Top 4 Consumers

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We’ve all had this internal debate: do I really need to read this? Will it be helpful or just a waste of time? What am I going to learn that will be valuable?

If you’re in the meat business, knowing as much as you can about your customers can have a big payoff. In order to successfully reach consumers, you’ve got to have an understanding of who they are, right?

The challenge, of course, is that consumers keep changing.

These days, consumers of multiple generations and ethnicities are the new norm, and this mix is altering the way meat is being prepared and consumed. Because of this, the “one size fits all” approach to meat marketing just doesn’t work anymore. So, you’ll need to adjust your efforts accordingly.

There are four primary consumer groups who are making the biggest impact on meat consumption trends: Millennials, Boomers, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.

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NRA 2016 Top 5

National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show is a behemoth conference that is both exhilarating and exhausting.  It’s a good thing our Midan team members were up to the task of tasting their way through the maze of booths and sitting in on great educational sessions, to discover what’s trending in foodservice, especially meat.

Here are Midan’s top 5 takeaways:

1. Trust and Transparency are Tops.

Consumer trust is still elusive.  There is a bias against size and scale in agriculture, a perception that “big ag” and family farms do not share the same values.  Consumers think that large farms are more likely than small farms to put their own interests ahead of consumer interests. 

(Charlie Arnot, CEO, The Center for Food Integrity, A Clear View On Transparency: How It Builds Consumer Trust)

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3 Steps to Get People Talking about Your Brand

This blog is the second in a series by Danette Amstein excerpted from a Brand Building presentation she delivered at NAMI’s Meat Industry Management Conference in April, 2016.

Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, it’s hard to miss the ubiquitous Starbucks on nearly every corner, or at least every few blocks.  Even small communities have a local Starbucks; they’re everywhere, right? Heck, now you can get your favorite Mocha Frappuccino at Target or the grocery store.  And the thing about Starbucks is, you always know what you’re getting.  Walk into any Starbucks from Seattle to Schenectady, and you can count on a consistent product.

Red umbrellaOnce upon a time, making a consistent, quality product was enough to be successful.  But in the 1950’s, consumer packaged goods companies like Procter and Gamble and General Foods realized that they needed to differentiate their products from “the other guy’s.”   Branding, or giving a product an identity that distinguishes it from nearly-indistinguishable competitors, was born.

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Brand Building: Finding the Sweet Spot

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Danette takes a selfie with attendees of her Brand Building presentation at NAMI’s Meat Industry Management Conference, April 5, 2016

Anyone who sells anything for a living has heard the old adage, “The customer is always right.”  This little nugget is more relevant than ever in today’s customer-centric economy.  Now that consumers have only to click a button to get products from kayaks to kazoos delivered to their door within hours, businesses that don’t focus on the buyer’s needs can’t survive or thrive.

Keeping your attention on the target consumer is critical, but it’s only part of the equation when it comes to another key factor in business success:  branding.   We all consume hundreds of brands every day:  Did you grab a coffee at Starbucks this morning?  Are you reading this blog on an Apple iSomething?  Will you drive home in a VW or a BMW?  In today’s uber-branded world, the challenge to brand effectively is daunting.  How do you tell your product’s story so that it stands out from others?

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AMC 2016 Top 10

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As a team, Midan’s focus at AMC 2016 was to listen and learn.  We took pages and pages of notes, capturing stats, quotes and key findings.  Back at the office, we sifted through all the content and created our own long list of the most important takeaways.  Here’s what we think were the top 10.  If you were there, let us know if you agree.  If you didn’t attend, but have questions, please reach out – we love to share what we learned!

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