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.

Here are the top trends from the show and around town that stood out to this full-on foodie:

  1. The Face of the Brand: Chefs love knowing the purveyors who pour their heart and soul into their products. No one can tell their company story and family legacy of hand-crafted quality like Fred Linz and Cristiano Creminelli. The Meats by Linz and Creminelli booths showcased not only both companies’ premium product lines but also photos of the owners who have dedicated their lives to making the meat business better.
  2. Old-World Artisanal Craftsmanship: You can’t hurry the creation of world-class smoked meats. Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon is known around the world for its amazing taste and quality but perhaps Nueske’s most important ingredient is patience: the slow-burning embers – not flames – of applewood yield that amazing flavor. Cooper’s Country Meat Packers celebrates its “low and slow” tradition of smoking its sausages in a real hickory-burning smokehouse in Florence, Mississippi. The authenticity of these brands is what consumers crave!
  3. Marcus Girard holding his prized culatello

  4. Intensification of Flavors: Time is also the key ingredient behind the art and science of charcuterie, which was on full display at the show from companies such as Zoe’s, Creminelli, Olli, and Alef. I loved spending time with Marcus Girard, salumiere of Tempesta Artisan Salumi in the Premier Proteins booth; he gave me an education about culatello (a very special cured and long-aged ham) which he calls the “epitome of the passion of crafting salumi.” Dry-aged beef is another “old but modern” trend that keeps getting play among high-end steakhouses like Swift & Sons, who featured a mouthwatering umami-filled 18-ounce bone-in strip steak from Meats by Linz.
  5. The Nos Have It: Celebrating and showcasing what’s not in our meat is as important as what is in it. “Pork, salt, and spices” were the main ingredients in Jones’ Dairy Farm’s sausage in 1889 and not a lot has changed since then. This is a great thing for consumers’ taste buds and Jones is one of many meat companies who are ahead of the clean label craze.
  6. Everything Tastes Better with Pork: All of us meatheads need a little surf to balance our turf so my last night in Chicago found me at Chef Giuseppe Tentori’s GT Fish & Oyster. I was delighted to find Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon in my clam chowder and pork chicharron topping my fish tacos! Even the seafood restaurants can’t resist pork to bring out the best in their dishes.
  7. Animal Fat is Back: My favorite meal while dining in Chicago occurred at a cool hipster joint located in Logan Square called Longman & Eagle. The meal was compliments of Shawn Peerless, the chief operating officer and third generation owner of Atlantic Veal & Lamb and my new foodie friend who lives in NYC. Folks, this was a culinary exploration of animal fat like no other that would make Nina Teicholz proud. We enjoyed salted beef rinds, fried lamb necks, meatballs, chicken liver pate, a flat iron with beef tallow béarnaise, beef fat fries, bone marrow with bacon jam and pork jowl! Fat is flavor and this was by far my most flavorful meal of 2017.
  8. Let’s Talk Healthy: Both traditional meat companies and newer-to-the-game “alternative meat” companies are adapting to consumer demand for food options that meet their health and wellness goals: pea-protein burgers, chicken and quinoa burgers and all sorts of plant-based proteins were on display at the show.

As for this confirmed carnivore, please give me the “real deal”; I am all about that animal protein. We didn’t claw ourselves to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables! There are so many delicious meat delicacies to be consumed, and I am happy to report that the meat companies exhibiting at NRA 2017 did not disappoint.

Not Your Average Carnivore

Alexandria Tyre is an Account Executive at Midan Marketing

I love cooking for family and friends. Whether it’s during the holidays, watching a college football game, or a simple weekday dinner, I take pride in preparing my guests a delicious meal. My husband actually says that the easiest way to insult me is to say that you were a guest in my home and left HUNGRY. I guess that is my Sicilian heritage surfacing!

To me, a meal is not complete without meat – unless maybe if it is a delicious bowl of risotto, but even then, a little pancetta never hurt. One of our vegetarian friends (yes, I have friends who are vegetarians) planned to join us for dinner and I was panicked. Despite being a fairly adept home cook, how was I going to make a satisfying dinner for everyone invited without meat? Needless to say, meat is the centerpiece of my meals.

So what does all of this have to do with consumer research? Well, apparently…a lot! Midan recently conducted a study to learn more about the different types of consumer segments in today’s market. According to the Meat Consumer Segmentation survey, I am a Voracious Carnivore. This surprised me as I’ve never considered myself a meat-and-potatoes type of gal. As a millennial, I’m younger than the average age of a Voracious Carnivore, and I am not from a small or rural community. But as I continue to read the segment profile, I realize that I am indeed a Voracious Carnivore.

Our household is motivated to eat more meat because it is easy and quick to prepare. Grilling a few ribeye or NY strip steaks is one of the most satiating meals, especially because clean-up is so minimal. On a regular basis I prepare a lot of chicken or ground beef because they are affordable and versatile for recipes from fajitas to meatballs. I like to keep my pantry and fridge well-stocked with basics so with the addition of protein, I can make a variety of dishes.

I also eat a lot of beef, chicken and pork because it works for my health. Despite my love of pasta and pancakes (really any carb in any format), carbs don’t work well for my waistline. Eating a protein-rich diet helps me not only maintain my weight but feel energized throughout the day. Even when I want to indulge, beef is still on the menu in the form of filet mignon with béarnaise sauce or steak frites with aioli.

To keep my diet on track, I make lists and plan my meals in advance whenever possible. Unlike most Voracious Carnivores, I do a lot of my recipe planning and grocery shopping in advance on my smart phone. However, like my fellow Voracious Carnivores, I have go-to recipes that I use frequently. Despite my routines, I appreciate stores that offer a variety of products in the meat case. I also like stores that value my loyalty and reward it with exclusive promotions or discounts because it helps me keep meat a part of my weekly meals.

Want to know what type of meat consumer segment you’re a part of? Download the FREE Meat Consumer Segmentation Executive Summary to learn more about Voracious Carnivores and its five consumer segment counterparts today!

The Selective Foodies Party

Gibson and Scout out on the town

Coca-Cola. Team Fitz. Vinegar-based BBQ sauce. Dog lover. Millennial.

Thanks to the Meat Consumer Segmentation research study, I can now add a new label to my list: Selective Foodie.

In December of 2016, Midan surveyed 2,200 meat eaters to better understand attitudes and behaviors surrounding meat purchasing and preparation. The results yielded six distinct segments of meat consumers, for which we created unique profiles to illustrate a multi-dimensional view of purchase drivers and shopping habits.

I’m a member of the smallest meat consumer segment, but what we lack in numbers, we make up for in passion! It’s never just about putting food on the table – it’s about finding the perfect recipe, crafting a complete grocery list, preparing with love (and wine) and enjoying a home-cooked meal with the fam. It’s about the experience.

If you’re hoping to appeal to Selective Foodies like me here are the two biggest ways to do so:

Build Your Brand

Because we’re a family-oriented group who values quality over price, we want to buy products we can depend on, and our devotion to national brands accomplishes that. I didn’t realize what a brand loyalist I was until my rehearsal dinner, when two of my college roommates gave my groom tips for living with me. Making the list was the need to always purchase Aveeno skin products. What can I say…they smell good!

This is also where my Millennial-ism starts showing. My generation likes finding brands they can believe in, like Endangered Species Chocolate, which does a pretty sweet job of turning cravings into philanthropy. What does your brand stand for? What’s your brand story? What are people saying about your brand? If you aren’t asking these questions, now’s the time – because Selective Foodies already are.

Sell the Experience

From community-style seating to farm-to-table décor, the restaurant industry has a strong handle on how to create an interesting dining experience that makes a perfect backdrop for Instagram posts. But a foodie is not exclusively defined by their attraction to trendy restaurants or the hottest new ingredient – again, it’s about the experience.

The Selective Foodies segment indexes high in the South, which comes as no surprise, because if there’s one thing we love in the South, it’s a story – and what’s a story without an experience? If you can illustrate what kind of experience your products offer, whether it’s a nostalgic holiday feast or lively Memorial Day bash, then you’ll get those storytelling wheels turning.

Like I said – it’s never just about putting food on the table. It’s about birthday burgers and a Panthers half-time on the half-shell. It’s watching Friday Night Lights with brisket and Shiner, because “Texas Forever.” It’s brunch with girlfriends and Ben & Jerry’s with my husband.

I could go on and on, but now I’m hungry and want to plan a party.

This Wavering Budgeteer Doesn’t Waver on a Good Deal

Diana and her Voracious Carnivore, Jeff.

My name is Diana Patulak Ross and I am the new proofreader at Midan Marketing. I am also new to the meat world (my background is in journalism, not meat!), so I was excited to attend our recent Meat Consumer Segmentation webinar. I was fascinated by the various meat consumer segments and curious to see which one I fit.

When it comes to shopping I am very thrifty so I wasn’t surprised to learn that I fall into the Wavering Budgeteer segment. The research was spot on!

Being a former newspaper reporter, I still love the smell of a hard copy newspaper so I go through the Sunday paper and circulars for coupons and store advertisements. After doing my research I know which stores have the best prices on meats and I am not afraid to travel to more than one to capture a good deal.

Since the Meat Consumer Segmentation profile so perfectly pegged me, I read the entire study so I could figure out where my husband landed. He is a Voracious Carnivore. (I guessed that one also.) Growing up in America’s heartland he was brought up on meat and corn so those items play a big part in our weekly meal plan.

So I make my list before I leave the house and once at the store look for in-store promotions that satisfy my budget while appealing to his love of prime rib. Marriage and meal planning are both a balancing act, right?

At the store I pay attention to in-store promotions as I like trying something new but am often deterred by price. A promotion or coupon gets my attention and will often make the difference between whether I purchase the item or not. Here’s where the “wavering” part of the segment comes in: if I’m on the fence, offering me a deal helps me pull the trigger!

I take the time to read product labels so learning about new recipes or reinforcing the importance of good nutrition will often lead me to purchase the product even though it wasn’t on my original list. Getting added value for my money is another way to capture my meat dollars.

Want to know the best way to market to money-conscious Wavering Budgeteers? Those of us in this segment want to feel we are getting a great deal on a purchase. So mailing coupons or printing them in the local paper will bring us in while point-of-sale promotions, especially ones that provide product information as well as good pricing, will lead us to buy.

I enjoyed learning about where I fit into meat consumer segmentation and look forward to nosing around into some of the other segments. Hopefully my training as a reporter and my Wavering Budgeteer personality will help me sniff out a story and a good deal or two.

I’m a Premium Player. What About You?

haley-frazierWhen it comes to my shopping habits, I have always been one to know exactly what I need. I am big on making lists and hate going out of my way to make my purchases.

Hello, my name is Haley Frazier and I am a Digital Content Coordinator at Midan Marketing. But I recently found out I am also a Premium Player.

I am referring to one of the six consumer segments Midan developed from our Meat Consumer Segmentation study. We conducted research to learn more about the different types of meat consumers in the U.S. today.

I am a millennial, but don’t let my age fool you—I pay for the meat I want because I care about having quality food! That’s one of the key characteristics of a Premium Player.

Ready to learn about this Premium Player’s habits?

Saturday morning: start meal planning for the week. The first thing I do is pull out my phone and search Yummly for dinner ideas. (For you non-millennials out there, Yummly is a recipe app that provides recommendations based on your personal preference.) I like trying different recipes with fun flavors, but I tend to stick with the same meats. Once the menu is complete and the shopping list is put together, I don’t grab my keys and head to my local grocery store; instead, I grab my laptop to order my groceries online! “Okay Google, let’s go shopping!” (I love using my voice-activated assistant.)

Ordering groceries online is rather new to me, but it’s awesome. I don’t have to squeeze my way through the narrow aisles or wait in the long lines on an early Saturday morning.

After ordering all of my produce, I click over to the butcher department. When I buy my meat, I don’t focus on prices as much as I do the labels/packaging. I care about the health attributes…is it all-natural, antibiotic-free and, if I’m being honest, does the packaging appeal to me? (I like a package that looks fresh and healthy.) To me, having quality meat at every meal is important, but at times, I’m okay trying a lighter meal with a non-meat protein.

Once I finish ordering my groceries, I select the time that I am able to pick them up. When I get home and I start putting them away, I don’t think twice about putting my meat in the freezer. I know I won’t eat it fast enough and to me, freezing my meat doesn’t take away from the taste.

So how do you market to a millennial Premium Player like me? Start focusing on online shopping. Think of ways you can make your packaging not just appealing in the store, but also online. Highlight the health attributes of your meat, share various ways you can prepare the meat or offer multiple flavor options that will inspire me to add to my routine meat purchases.

Saturday evening: make a delicious meal, curl up on the couch with my cat and binge watch Netflix for the next four hours. (See, I really am a millennial!) 😉

Learn more about Premium Players and the other five meat consumer segments by downloading our free Meat Consumer Segmentation Executive Summary.

If you’d like to chat about the research, please contact Maggie O’Quinn, our New Business Development Director.

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)

Five Opportunities to Sell More Fresh Meat

sell-more-fresh-meatAt Midan, our Market Research Team is always scoping out the consumer trends that are having the biggest impact on the meat industry. A key part of our job is to help our clients understand the implications those trends can have on their business. By assigning meaning to facts and figures, we can help turn meat trends into opportunities.

So what opportunities should be on your radar? I’ve outlined five that you might find helpful as you jump into the new year:

  • Embrace Multi-Generations and Multi-Ethnicities
    If you pay attention to the media, you might think that Millennials are the only consumers shopping the meat case. I’m joking, of course – today’s broad and deep consumer base actually spans various cultures and generations and brings with it a range of differing values and habits.  There are four primary consumer segments affecting meat consumption trends: Millennials, Boomers, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Members of these groups are actively influencing how fresh meat is prepared and consumed in the U.S. It’s critical to tune into the preferences and tastes of these key players so you can adjust your branding, marketing and communication efforts accordingly.

     
    Meet today’s top 4 consumer groups.

  • Promote Transparency Over Traceability
    Significant numbers of consumers value full disclosure over trace back – they’re more concerned that companies are transparent about their production practices when it comes to meat and poultry, versus exact tracking. In the 2016 Power of Meat study,  90 percent of consumers indicated a strong desire to know where their meat comes from, while only 68 percent were interested in tracing meat back to specific animals. Consumers want to know things like: Have hormones or antibiotics been used? What ingredients have been added?Are your production practices an open book when it comes to this kind of information? Being transparent is one of the fastest ways to build trust with consumers.
  • Own Protein and Other Meat Nutrients
    The meat industry has always had the best protein story, hands down. The trouble is, we aren’t telling it effectively. We are competing with yogurt and other foods on the protein battlefront when we should be the automatic victor. According to our Protein and the Plate research (conducted jointly with Meatingplace and sponsored by Yerecic Label), 70 percent of consumers said they substitute non-meat protein for fresh meat once a week.
    Unless it’s okay with you that close to three-quarters of consumers are replacing meat for at least one meal a week, we need to up our game. One way to combat this kind of substitution is to get back to the basics with consumers by reminding them that meat is one of the best protein sources on the planet as well as an excellent source of other key nutrients. We know that consumers love a good story, and we need to be telling ours.

     
    Read Danette Amstein’s blog: Resolve to Own Protein

  • Develop Value-Added Products
    Value-added items in the meat case are experiencing strong growth and there are several reasons why. Along with offering reduced preparation time and minimizing the decision-making process, these products can be sold in packages of one, two or multiple servings. More than ever, consumers crave convenience and simplicity, and the variety of package sizes meets the needs of smaller households, like Boomers. And for that younger generation that’s less educated about meat, value-added products help make dinner stress-free. It’s all about offering meal solutions that meet the needs of your consumer base.

     
    See how we helped develop the Tyson Crafted Creations brand.

  • Build Meat Brands
    You’ve heard it here before and are no doubt seeing it in our industry: commodity products are making way for branded products. Along with helping you compete in the meat case, branding is a way for you to attract new customers and generate loyalty. Branding helps build trust and a solid relationship with your company. Although the meat industry tends to be slow to change, this trend is picking up speed fast, so the time to act is now.

     
    Get meat branding tips.

Are any of these trends on your radar? Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear your feedback!

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.

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.

 

Wait– I have a coupon for that!

I have a confession to make:  I have become an Extreme Couponer. All the signs are there: I’ve developed a pattern for watching my most lucrative stores for bargains and super deals. I know and use terms like Catalina, MFG, MQs, blinkies, peelies and stacking. And I have no less than five jars of spaghetti sauce in my cabinets. (The big ones — and I paid only $4 for all of them!)

In fact, I have now successfully navigated three ‘super doubles’ couponing events at my local grocery stores!  ‘Super doubles’ is when a grocery store doubles coupons, in some cases doubling manufacturer coupons worth up to $2.00. So while I’m by no means an expert in extreme couponing, I AM highly enthusiastic about the impact it has already had on my family’s grocery budget. There are three of us in my little family unit and while our budget has increased some since I landed my dream job as an Administrative Assistant at Midan Marketing, it is certainly not unlimited.  Shoppers like me who save by couponing for common household needs and side items will have extra cash to purchase more roasts, ribs and steaks than before!

So far this year (almost the end of January as I write this), I have racked up well over $400 in savings from couponing. That money is allowing me to feed my family a great variety of higher-quality meats AND help out some other folks by either sharing my stockpile or bringing meals to folks in times of stress or illness. Being able to care for my family AND share love and comfort with others without suffering financially is the greatest blessing I receive from couponing.

The Couponing Process

Friday or Saturday I look through the circulars for the stores I frequent. (Yes stores. If you want the best deals, a weekly grocery shop will take you to at least two stores.)  From there, I’ll craft my dinner plans based on how the deals line up with my already-clipped coupons. Some weeks there just aren’t tons of deals, and I’ll make a plan based on what I already have on hand to minimize the list.

A quick but exciting example:  recently, my local store had name- brand bacon on sale for “Buy 2, Get 3 Free.” Stop and read those words again… I’ll wait. FREE BACON Y’ALL!! I did not have any coupons for this bacon, so I emailed the company’s customer service and asked for some. They sent me four coupons for varying amounts off a variety of their products. So I went to the store, grabbed my five pounds of bacon (FIVE!) and after coupons I paid $11.00. Five pounds of this brand of bacon would normally have cost me about $35 at regular retail price, and I got it for nearly 70% off!

shutterstock_130416155Couponing requires significant planning and researching. When you’re carefully budgeted, walking through the store, keeping a tally of exactly what you’re spending, is tiring enough. On top of that, I have to multiply/add/divide cents and dollars, subtract percentages and compare cost per unit to be sure I’m getting the best deal…I often leave with a little headache!

 

Cost-conscious shoppers like me have a well-established habit of sticking religiously to their list.  It’s key to going into the store and getting a cart full of groceries and household goods for just dollars. I always scope out the meat case for good deals.  If there’s a lightning sale on something I’ll grab it, but if it’s just a good deal, I’ll check the sale dates, make note of it and come back to get it on a different trip.

Often I base what meat I’m buying on what side items I’m getting or have stocked at home. Recently there was a new line of ‘pouch’ sauces on sale and heavily couponed (as new items often are) for less than a dollar. One of them was a pot roast sauce for the slow cooker and it just happened that chuck roast was on sale for half price, so of course I snatched both of those up. I even got an extra chuck roast to freeze for later. I have always wondered if there was a coordinated effort when those “matches made in couponing heaven” happen or was it just a happy coincidence?

Right now in my freezer I have two packs of ground beef, a chuck roast, a few packs of chicken breasts and, of course, a bunch of bacon! I’ve not always had the ability in my life to ‘stock up’ on things, so it feels great to have some reserves. Knowing that I’ve stockpiled supplies in case (God forbid) a car breaks down or someone gets sick,  without having gone over our regular weekly budget, feels like I’m some kind of superhero!

I have really enjoyed teaching my friends how to use coupons to stretch their budgets.   If you have a question about couponing or grocery planning, please ask. I’d like to share as much as I can before I know too much about meat to be considered a regular consumer!

Happy Couponing!

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