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.

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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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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.

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