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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Top Meat Industry Headlines of 2017

Oh 2017—what a news-filled, exciting year you have been!

Here at Midan we work hard to stay on top of news and trends in the meat industry. As this year wraps up, I wanted to reflect with you on some of 2017’s prominent trends that we believe will impact 2018.

  1. The Evolution of Retail: It has been a big year for retailers — no one can deny that. This year, retailers have moved at a fast-pace to keep up with consumer trends and the demand for convenience. Retail consolidation is a trend that started some time ago and continues to gain momentum. Major retailers like Kroger have purchased smaller specialty grocers—and we can’t forget the $13.7 billion check Amazon wrote to add Whole Foods to its portfolio. These changes in strategic posturing require retailers to pause and give thought to how they will continue to differentiate themselves. Many are focusing on the areas of consumer convenience: online ordering, curbside delivery and in-home delivery, as well as creating their own meal solutions.

    Outlook for 2018: Expect more posturing, more niche playing and more convenience for consumers.

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AMC 2017 Top 10

midan-marketing-team-photoBigger than ever before (with 1,300 attendees!), the Annual Meat Conference (AMC) 2017 was an awesome opportunity to hear from experts across all phases of the meat industry about what’s next for our favorite proteins. We came prepared with our trusty notepads and pens to capture the key takeaways, and we had our work cut out for us. See below for our Top 10 learnings. What were your key findings from AMC 2017? Please share below!

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Topics that Shaped 2016

At Midan, it is our job to pay attention to what is happening in the meat industry and beyond. Each week we comb the headlines, not only to keep up-to-date, but to identify patterns that could become trends that impact our industry. As we look back at the past year, a few prominent themes emerge that are likely to continue to require our attention in 2017.

Millennials: The challenge is different with this generation – we simply can’t lump them into a nice, neat category. After all, these “kids” have redefined individualism! One thing is certain: they are a large population force to be reckoned with and their impact has led to shifts in how businesses market to them. Millennials grew social media, heightened consumer consciousness about issues like sustainability and led the charge for clean labels, all while demanding bold flavors and convenient meal options. Complicated? Yes! Worth the effort? You bet!

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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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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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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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AMC 2016 Top 10

Midan_team_AMC_2016

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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