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!

Midan’s AMC 2017 Top 10 takeaways:

  1. New consumer segments can help the meat industry zero in on target customers
    New research segments meat consumers into six distinct groups with unique meat shopping attitudes and behaviors. (Michael Uetz & Danette Amstein, Midan Marketing, Meat Consumer Segmentation). Learn more here.

  2. Foreign trade remains a crucial part of meat industry success
    Forecasters predict a 4.5% increase in meat exports in 2017. Export markets must grow significantly to keep supply and demand in balance. (Randy Blach, CattleFax, Market Outlook for Meat and Poultry)

  3. The meat industry continues to face stiff competition from alternative protein sources
    There are 39% more food items with protein claims on the market today than there were four years ago. (Anne-Marie Roerink, 210 Analytics, The Power of Meat: An In-Depth Look at Meat through the Shopper’s Eyes)

  4. “Environmental eating” is dramatically impacting agriculture
    Today’s agriculture has two marketplaces: Commodity [Filling/Financial] vs. Value-Added [Feelings/Flavor]. Value-added food has a “feel good” story that sells social consciousness. (Damian Mason, Agriculture: Trends, Topics, and Tomorrow)

  5. Consumers deepen bonds with brands through shared values
    61% of consumers will not buy a product if it does not meet societal obligations. (Tish Van Dyke, Edelman, Modern Marketing in the New Media Environment)

  6. Organic offers big opportunities for increased basket rings at the register
    For total U.S., annual dollars per household spent on organic is $126. “True Believers” on the spectrum of consumer segmentation spend nearly triple that amount. (Larry Levin and Steve Ramsey, IRI, The Impact of Organic and No Antibiotics Ever Positioning on Total Store Sales)

  7. There were 540 food recalls in 2016
    Food crises unfold in a predictable sequence. Prepare in advance for a food safety issue by creating an incident guide that includes staged messaging to address possible scenarios. (Jeff Hahn, Hahn Public, Emerging Consumer Concerns and Issues Management)

  8. Pig farmers are connecting directly with consumers
    The next generation of pig farmers is successfully using social media platforms (check out @RealPigFarming on Twitter) to share photos of day-to-day farm life. (Brad Greenway, US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance and Angela Anderson, National Pork Board, Communicating the Story to Consumers)

  9. Opportunity for companies ready to tailor food offerings to meet personal health needs
    While past nutrition guidelines have focused on “one size fits all” recommendations, consumers now expect a more customized approach to health and nutrition. Companies who take action now will lead the future of food (and health). (Simon Negri, A.T. Kearney and Jennifer Bentz, Tyson Foods, Inc., Personalized Nutrition: An Industry Disruptor?)

  10. FSIS easing into new requirements for ground beef recordkeeping
    FSIS has taken a six-month “soft approach” to enforcing the ground beef recordkeeping rule that became effective on 10/1/16. Retailers attempting to comply with the new rule aren’t likely to be disciplined; operators aware of the rule but ignoring it could face as-yet-unspecified disciplinary action. A new notice outlining how FSIS will enforce infractions is expected within 6-8 weeks. (Mark Dopp, North American Meat Institute and Hilary Thesmar, Food Marketing Institute, Regulatory Update)

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!

Want to learn more about Millennials? Check out Michael’s blog on meat-specific Millennial research that we released this year and get additional insight from these articles:

Clean Labels: “Free From,” “Does Not Include” and “No <insert here>” – You are familiar with these kinds of claims because many of you make them. We have evolved from touting USDA grade to branded meat products to branded meat products that differentiate themselves with key attributes. Most of these attributes now focus on what is not in the product.

“Natural” as a claim is losing staying power with beef, but not so much with other proteins, according to Nielsen data. Claims such as “Antibiotic-Free” and “Minimally Processed” have seen significant growth:  antibiotic-free beef sales for the 52 weeks ending 8/27/16 were $321 million. The numbers prove this is more than a fad.

If you are in the beef business and not talking about what to do with your “natural” labels, it’s time. If you are in the prepared business and aren’t removing words consumers don’t understand from your ingredient list, it’s time. If you are a retailer, take note of how you describe what is in your meat case. If you are a chef, it’s time to add to your next round of menus.

Read more about the impact of clean labels:

GMOs:  As a meat industry, we have (for the most part) been able to sit on the sidelines and watch this one unfold. Turns out the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) unveiled two years’ worth of review and proclaimed, “There is no evidence that GMOs are risky to eat.” This declaration did not stop consumers or Congress. Sales of non-GMO food products have soared in the past four years and aren’t showing signs of slowing…yet. Lawmakers brought forth new regulations on how GMOs should be labeled. Although the bill (penned after NAS’s proclamation) exempts foods where meat and poultry are the main ingredients, we still need to keep our eye on it.

This issue is really about something much bigger than GMOs. It is about transparency and consumer trust, and how easy it is to lose one without the other. Whatever the next hot topic is for the meat industry, we need to be prepared to leave the safety of the sidelines and respond.

Read more about 2016 GMO news:

Social Media:  Don’t groan! We need to talk about it, because social media has exploded beyond just B2C.  Marketing is about relationships and it turns out both customers and consumers are …wait for it…human! Marketing is moving to more of a “human-to-human” (H2H) philosophy. So whether you participate in the social media world or not, your customers and your consumers do. If you want them to know about you, you’ve gotta be where they are. Period.

adult-social-media-users
Not sure where to start with social media?  Get tips from a variety of helpful blogs in our archives.

Read more about the social media explosion:  

Got other 2016 topics that should be on this list?  Please leave me a comment – I always love to hear from you!

About the author:
As a Principal of Midan Marketing, Danette is always thinking strategically about how to move the meat industry forward. Her lifelong love for the meat industry began on her family’s farm in Kansas and continues today in her passionate work for meat clients. Midan provides integrated marketing strategies, branding programs, digital media platforms, creative communications, public relations and market research services designed to help make meat more relevant to consumers. 

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.

A few key takeaways from the book that help explain how fat came to be the bad guy:

  • In the 1950s, Ancel Keys, a professor at the University of Minnesota, was the leading researcher to demonize fat because he provided a quick answer to why middle-aged men were dropping from heart attacks: eat less fat. Despite lots of flaws in Keys’ research methodology, his idea prevailed because several prominent leaders died from heart disease, including President Eisenhower. Corners were cut to back up Keys’ flawed science due to the pressure to find a solution.
  • The American Heart Association (AHA) recommended a diet low in saturated fats to prevent heart disease in 1961 on the basis of Keys’ work, and the government followed the “war on fat” bandwagon in 1980 by publishing the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans which later became the basis of the USDA food pyramid.
  • AHA pamphlets published in the 1970s and 1980s recommended that Americans control their fat intake by increasing refined-carbohydrate consumption. To avoid fat, people should eat sugar, advised the AHA.

Fortunately, a paradigm shift is happening: As early as 2011, nutritionists began admitting that saturated fats aren’t as harmful to us as carbohydrates. Obesity, diabetes and heart disease aren’t caused by saturated fat but rather by sugar, white flour and other refined carbohydrates.

I was thrilled to see saturated fat redeemed in the October issue of Prevention magazine whose target audience is women my age (read: we are 40+ but know our best years are yet to come if we follow a healthy lifestyle!). In an article filled with delicious meat-inspired recipes entitled “Bring Back the Flavor,” Dr. Mark Hyman of the Cleveland Clinic admitted that much of the early science on saturated fat was flawed. “Saturated fat is essential to our functioning. We now know that whole foods high in saturated fat can improve cholesterol quality, cognitive function, and even metabolism.”

And the global fat outlook is bullish according to the Credit Suisse Research Institute: Fat will increase from the current 26% of calorie intake to 31% by 2030. Saturated fat will grow the fastest, increasing from 9.4% to 13% of calorie intake.

While this is great news for the meat industry, long-standing public opinion is slow to change. Knowing this backstory spelled out by Nina Teicholz only makes it more clear to me what those of us in the meat business need to do:

  • Shamelessly tell your story. Share your unique selling proposition with your target audience – they crave your products!
  • Tout the health benefits of saturated fat in your products.
  • Remember that you are in the flavor business. Fat is flavor! Your products are the proteins of celebration!

Pass the bacon, the porterhouse and the pulled pork sandwich, please.

About the author:
Maggie lives on a farm in Alabama with her husband, James, and three-year-old son Jimmy. They will welcome another little boy to their family in 2017, who will grow up with lots of delicious saturated fat recipes passed down from multiple generations of farmers and foodies. Maggie joined Midan Marketing in April as the new business development manager.

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.

2016-man-leaping_377448043

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!)

Some of you have been working on these areas. I see it: in your advertising, in-store POS, social media posts, packaging, etc. As someone deeply invested in the meat industry, I am inspired when I observe these kinds of positive changes that move us forward. Now that you have started, keep the course. If you haven’t embraced these ideas to up your marketing ante, pick one or two that could have the biggest impact on your business and get started.

If you have read this far and are not the “marketing guy,” then please forward this blog to him/her and ask how these items can be incorporated into the marketing plan for next year.

Wondering how you should apply these to your company and/or brands? I welcome your questions and comments. And feel free to leave me a Fantasy Football tip – I can use all the help I can get!

Watch our “2017 Planning” Midan Minute Video

 

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.

Here are the big five that stood out to me:

Health

“Millennials are more concerned about health as related to meat consumption.”

I generally maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. (It may have something to do with my obsession with icing as a child and perhaps I’m now overcorrecting that processed sugar intake by eating fruit for lunch…) I also enjoy learning about healthy foods. Speaking on behalf of Millennials, if we have a question, we ask – or rather, we Google. Because we have so many sources of information in the palm of our hand, we are able to learn more about the food on our plates – and when a popular food blogger on Pinterest tells you the benefits of using a certain ingredient over another, it’s easy to make that switch.

Meal Prep

“Millennials feel a sense of accomplishment when they prepare a complicated dish and enjoy trying new meat recipes.”

Yes and yes! Or as we say in Millennial world, “YASS.” Raise your hand if you’ve ever Instagrammed a meal you cooked. *hand raised emoji* I don’t know if there’s ever a night that I’ve cooked a meal, and I don’t look out of the corner of my eye to catch my husband’s reaction after the first bite. I love cooking and I love trying new recipes and most of all, I love when the hubs says, “This is a keeper!”

Convenience

“Prepared meat accounts for about 44 percent of Millennials’ meat purchases.”

It all boils down to convenience. While I do enjoy trying new recipes, I want an easy, healthy meal that can be made after I’m finished with Tuesday night tennis but before one of my adored TV shows comes on. I also want little cleanup – I mean, how am I supposed to live tweet Grey’s Anatomy with sudsy hands?! Again, convenience is key and prepared meats accomplish that.

Social Attitudes

“Millennials are more easily influenced. Some Millennials think that meat is becoming less socially acceptable and in a social setting are much more likely than Boomers to adjust their meat consumption to align with the group.”

This, I get. It sounds silly, but the concept of social influence does apply to me. Just last weekend I was out to dinner with girlfriends and I had my eye on a steak. It was topped with fried onions and served with mashed potatoes and I wanted it bad. But I didn’t want to be the only one at the table who ordered a steak. Lucky for me, half the table ordered that beauty and we all nearly cleaned our plates. So, while social attitudes didn’t prevent me from purchasing meat in that situation, the thought crossed my mind.

Meat Substitutes

“More than four in 10 Millennials have consumed meat alternatives in the past 12 months.”

These are the most common meat alternatives: tofu, soy-based meat and texturized vegetable protein. I kind of go back and forth on this one. At first I think, “If I want meat I’m going to eat meat – not a non-meat alternative.” And then I remember my work snack: almonds. While nuts are not listed above as a meat alternative, they are an alternate protein source. I eat about a handful of almonds every day (the amount of handfuls correlates with the extent of my workload). I know I need protein to stay alert during the day and on top of ever-changing social media trends!

While we’re a group defined by our birthdays, tech savviness and binge watching of Netflix, these survey results can help you better understand how to speak to us about meat. And if done successfully, who knows – your product could end up as the subject of an Instagram post #nofilter.

To get the full scoop on the Millennials vs. Baby Boomers study, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 in the Shelby Report, or get the video recap from Michael here. For more Millennial perspective, just leave me a comment!

 

 

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.

Such training is perfect for someone like me who is a member of the generation least-educated about meat – I believe you’ve heard of us…we’re Millennials. During these sessions I was able to give my Google search a rest as all my meat questions were answered right before my eyes. Snapchat, however, did not get a rest. For you non-Millennial readers, Snapchat is a photo sharing app that I usually use to share puppy photos, but while at training my followers received these gems:

COP_SnapchatAside from “Dr. Davey” hacking away at hunks of meat and slivers of fat, most interesting was the insight and comedic commentary coming from our 5’3” lively Italian instructor. Steve has been doing this gig for years, and from the start I knew we were going to leave that classroom with mounds of information! With this being his last year in the saddle, we were the lucky class to witness his swan song, complete with descriptions of up-and-coming cuts, how certain cuts should be prepared and the best way to become an American (barbeque, of course!).

Here are some of the key takeaways:

What’s Hot

The Spinalis, also known as the Ribeye cap, was the most-talked-about cut of the week. This cut combines the flavor of a ribeye with the tenderness of tenderloin, getting the attention of chefs, butchers and consumers, and earning its place as the future of meat. The Baseball cut (top portion of the Top Sirloin) also received a lot of hype – it was no secret this was Steve’s favorite.

Label Learnings

Although a label may make a very specific claim – perhaps that the cattle is fed a special diet of flax seed or is a specific breed such as Angus – but how do you really know? Certain claims cannot be detected from the carcass alone; it must undergo a verification process that supports its genotype and/or other claims. (This is definitely something to keep in the old noggin while perusing the meat case.)

Let’s Get Veal

When it comes to veal, color is key: grayish pink is what you’re looking for. It’s also important to know how veal is raised and finished. As a young animal whose rumens (stomachs) aren’t fully-functioning, milk is an important part of their early diet.  Special care is taken as grain and grass are introduced to their diet in order to ensure desired finished size and fat content.

Lamb on the Rise

Steve said, “Wake up, lamb! There are a lot of things you can do!” And the restaurant industry is listening. Lamb is appearing on more menus, even those serving brunch! Mimosas and lamb, anyone? An increased interest in lamb can be attributed to a growing desire for ethnic cuisine and adventurous flavors (you can thank Millennials for that!).

Because I have acquired knowledge that combats the common stereotype of Millennials at the meat case, I can now write about meat in a way that goes beyond “Hey! Try this!” Rather than simply sharing a certain recipe on Facebook , I now understand how that culinary application works, why it incorporates a certain cut, and what kind of flavor can be expected because it came from a specific muscle.

I returned home with a plethora of meat knowledge to apply to my work, my grocery shopping and my cocktail party conversations (that was Steve’s idea).

Thank you, North American Meat Institute, for organizing an educational (and entertaining) week of Center of the Plate Training®, and a big thank you to Steve Olson and Davey Griffin for bringing carcasses to life!

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)

2. Local is Trendy, but Fuzzy.

This wariness of big farming has helped fuel the “locally sourced” trend.  Consumers want local because there is a lack of trust in our food system.  Consumers don’t trust big food or completely understand food labels, but they can comprehend and get behind “local” and they associate it with higher quality, even though there is no universal definition for local.

(Townsend Bailey, Director, Supply Chain Sustainability, McDonald’s USA, LLC, Where’s the Beef:  Eco-Protein Trends Explained)

FPL Food was an exhibitor at NRA 2016.

FPL Food was an exhibitor at NRA 2016.

3. The Story Matters. 

Consumers want to know and understand where their food comes from.  The exhibiting meat companies at NRA did a great job telling their unique stories, from FPL’s Georgia farming traditions to Meats by Linz’ investment in their own herd of registered Angus cattle to Niman Ranch’s pasture-raised hogs.

Restaurant menus are the new storybooks.  U.S. adults who will spend more at restaurants in 2016 than they did in 2015 will be reading menus and looking for:

  • Natural items – 54%
  • Sustainable items – 48%
  • Organic items – 47%
  • Seasonal items – 47%

(Stacy Glasgow, Consumer Trends Consultant, and Jenny Zegler, Global Food & Drink Analyst, Mintel, Consumer Trends in Foodservice and Beyond)

4. Premium is In.

Quality. Quality. Quality.  Every meat company did a brilliant job showcasing high quality products.  Gone are our post-recession days of cheap meat; quality is the new normal.

5. Fat is Back. 

Marbling reigned supreme in all of the meat companies’ exhibits!  Fat is back and it’s appreciated by discriminating restaurant operators who want flavorful options to wow their patrons.  From Superior Farms’ flavorful lamb bacon to Compart Foods’ dry-aged pork porterhouse, meat companies are focusing on fat.

6. Charcuterie is Hot.

Olli and Zoe’s Meats were two of many charcuterie companies showcasing their slow-cured meats.  Charcuterie remains one of the hottest meat menu trends.  Salami, anyone?

Get more insight into foodservice trends.

 

AMC 2016 Top 10

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!

Midan_team_AMC_2016

Midan’s AMC 2016 top 10 takeaways:

  1. Forget the focus on a certain protein or cut — it’s all about application 
    • Consumers don’t buy meat; they buy what they can do with it. 57% of raw meat is purchased with a specific recipe/application already in mind. Give them ideas on what to do with your product and they will buy it. (Jack Li, Dataessential, Consumer Trends Driving Meat Innovation)
  1. Retailers have the opportunity to convert Millennials at the meat case
    • When buying meat, 64% of Millennials are open to being influenced at the store: 90% do not list a brand when meat shopping, 32% plan meat purchases, but decide at the store, and 36% make the entire meat purchase decision in-store. (Larry Levin and Chris Dubois, IRI, “Meat”ing Millennials!)
  1. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) factors heavily in Millennial decision-making
    • 87% of Millennials think business success should be measured by more than financial performance; they want to work for and buy from companies who are doing good things for society. (Andrew Winston, The Big Pivot, Doing Business in a Hotter, Scarcer, More Open and Connected World [2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey])
  1. There is a dramatic increase in consumers’ concern about chemicals in their food 
    • 36% of consumers said it is the most important food safety issue they considered when shopping for food, up from 23% in 2014. (Janet Riley, NAMI, Turning Up the Heat: Confronting Current Challenges to Meat Nutrition and Safety)
  2. Don’t forget about Boomers; they are responsible for greater spend overall on meat
    • Boomers purchase from the meat department 5 times more per year than Millennials, driving $2.3 billion in incremental sales. 78 million Boomers hold 70% of the disposable income and account for 50% of CPG sales. (Sherry Frey & Mikael Nielsen, Nielson, Polarized Consumers are the New Norm)
  3. Retailers and packer/processors who embrace digital are winning loyal followers 
    • 70% of consumers who get a quick response from companies on social media are more likely to recommend that brand to others. (Art Yerecic & Kristin Yerecic, Yerecic Label, Connect with Consumers at the Speed of Technology)
  4. Consumers are moving from ethnic buckets to more specific foods 
    • Consumers today are more interested in specific food items and their associated flavors rather than cuisines: not Mexican, but tacos; not Italian, but Chicken Parmigiana.  Food trucks have helped this trend grow. (Jack Li, Dataessential, Consumer Trends Driving Meat Innovation)
  5. The argument against GMOs has shifted from the fear of consequences to “consumers have a right to know.”
    • With respect to GMOs, consumers favor product information disclosure: 68% would like labels to indicate if a product has GMOs, but in 2015 only 1 in 4 consumers (26%) indicated that they would buy products with a non-GMO label. (David Fikes, FMI, Addressing Consumer Concerns with GMOs)
  6. The steady “drip” of adverse health news erodes consumer confidence in meat
    • The meat industry must counteract this with a flow of facts that gives consumers permission to eat our products.  Check out http://meatpoultrynutrition.org/ for a wealth of science-based information that can help do this. (Janet Riley, NAMI , Turning Up the Heat: Confronting Current Challenges to Meat Nutrition and Safety)
  7. What consumers look for on nutrition labels is changing
    • Shoppers will be paying more attention to serving size, calories, carbohydrates, sugar content and iron, while focusing less on fat, calcium, cholesterol, sodium and vitamins. (David Portalatin, NPD, The State of the Meat Eater)

Resolve to Own Protein in 2016

It’s easy to guess what the top New Year’s resolutions are every January:  lose weight, get in shape, eat better, right?  (Raise your hand if you’ve picked one of these.)

The start of a new year,shutterstock_334226393 when people enthusiastically resolve to focus on their health and wellness, is a great time to be in the fresh meat industry. In order to capitalize on all the ways that meat can help the health-conscious achieve their goals, it’s important to understand two key factors challenging today’s meat consumption.

Fad Diets are Trending Down

Although the new year is the perfect time to promote lean meat to help build muscle and lose fat, interest in high-protein diets like the Paleolithic Diet appears to be fading. According to Google Trends, online searches for “Paleolithic Diet,” “Primal Diet” and other high-protein diets have been dropping significantly since 2013, reaching an all-time low in 2015. Plant-based diets, however, appear to be on the rise.

So, all those folks who were flocking to the meat case for their high-protein fix aren’t so much these days. But while high-protein diets might be losing their appeal, balanced diets are always in style. So while you might not get as many Caveman dieters, you can still lure lots of folks who are trying to eat well and maintain a healthy weight. Lean beef and pork deliver the high-quality protein every body needs all year long. We in the meat industry need to make sure consumers understand this.

Alternate Protein Sources aren’t Slowing Down

While Americans might be fickle about their fad diets, their love affair with protein seems to be going strong. Unfortunately for the meat industry, people are often choosing their protein in the dairy case instead of the meat case. The current Greek yogurt craze is just one example. Many consumers have shifted away from meat in the past year. According to our Protein and the Plate research:

  • 70% of consumers said they substitute non-meat protein for fresh meat once a week
  • 20% of meat eaters said they are replacing fresh meat more often than they did a year ago

While consumers have an increased awareness of the importance of protein, they aren’t always turning to one of the best sources on the planet to get it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the meat industry needs to OWN protein!  We are missing out if we don’t shout it from the rooftops and plaster it on the package and all marketing materials.

Fresh Meat:  The Perfect Diet Food

Let’s face it:  those gung-ho consumers with their New Year’s resolutions might not make it to the gym as often as they like (myself included), but there’s little doubt they’ll get to the grocery store. Be ready with products and messaging that help them start the new year on the right foot, with the right protein:  fresh meat.

The time is now to communicate how fresh meat is the ideal protein source for a healthy, balanced diet. Be sure your websites and social media posts are talking about it and start planning now to get this important messaging in store and on packages.

Check out these “Protein Builds” videos from Maple Leaf Foods that effectively relay the importance of protein in a healthy diet.

Leave a comment or email me directly at d.amstein@midanmarketing.com.  I love to hear from you!

2015 Recap: Pay attention to these 3 things

When the calendar hits December 1, it’s time to start checking to see if we made the “nice” list or not! (I have confirmed my status…how about you!?!)  As 2015 comes to a close, we also pause to reflect on the significant events that have shaped our industry this year, and consider how they might impact 2016.   As I look back across the major headlines from the past year, three main themes seem to form:

  1. Prices/Supply – Oh, what a roller coaster ride 2015 has been! Beef prices found new ceilings, pork prices leveled out before taking a nose dive the last few weeks. Was any topic more talked about in the media and meat company board rooms across the country this past year?  The good news is that 2016 is bringing greener pastures, literally, thanks to much-needed rain, so more cows are being retained.  Pork producers are also breathing a sigh of relief that the PEDv outbreak is behind them.  The conditions are ripe for increases in supply with less volatile pricing, and that is something we can all be thankful for!
  1. Niches – We live in a world where specialization is becoming the norm, not the exception, and this trend has resulted in niche meat brands and products that cater to specific lifestyle and dietary needs. For some consumers, antibiotic-free is a trigger; for others, it’s animal welfare. We stopped selling one-size-fits-all meat a while ago, and in 2015 we saw further fragmentation. It will serve us well to figure out which niches are feasible to cater to and then build the brands and products to meet those needs.
  1. Health/Wellness – 2015 brought its share of headlines that tied meat with health, like whether lean meat would still be part of the Dietary Guidelines or the IARC’s report that processed meat causes cancer. But when we’re talking about meat and health, let’s not forget protein. “Protein” is a word we have to continue fighting to own. Meat is the ultimate source of protein, and if you are not calling that out in your consumer messaging, it is time to get on the bandwagon.

As we wrap up 201shutterstock_328379666 (1)5, I encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking of the ramifications of these themes.  In order for us to succeed in 2016, we have to keep our pulse on what consumers are doing and what is influencing their behaviors.  What do you think?  Do you agree with my assessment or did I miss something?  What do you think the main headlines will be in 2016?  I always appreciate your comments.

Cheers to 2016!

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