2018 Meat Industry Headlines

December 12, 2018

2018 Meat Industry Headlines


Danette Amstein

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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2. Spotlighting Sustainability: It’s no coincidence that protein alternatives and sustainability rank #1 and #2 on this list. In many instances, the growing popularity of plant-based proteins is directly related to the groundswell of support for this difficult-to-clearly-define-thing called sustainability. The more informed consumers become, the more they’re searching for what they believe to be planet-friendly and responsible food choices. But eating “clean” doesn’t mean consumers have to skip the meat case. Highlighting the strides the meat industry has made in sustainability is one way we can flip the script and steer the conversation back to our industry’s own positive impact on the environment.

Outlook for 2019: Look for protein alternative brands to continue to fuel the sustainability talking points they want to focus on. Expect more and more meat brands to begin putting a voice to their own stories; join them.

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3. Reinventing the Retail Experience: The constantly evolving retail landscape continues to be a major story. Three main forces driving the changes are: digital transformation, convenience and perhaps most importantly, offering a superior customer service experience. New and innovative options emerge almost daily: Home grocery delivery. No checkout supermarkets. Scan and Go. Our fast-paced world demands retailers not only keep up with consumers, but also reach them wherever they are, whether it’s online, on mobile or on the go. Not surprisingly, big dogs Amazon and Walmart are leading the charge in offering unique and convenient shopping experiences.

Outlook for 2019: Expect Amazon and Walmart to continue to define the retail conversation, but don’t count out other disruptive voices to make themselves heard.

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4. Educating Others on Antibiotics & Hormones: You may be thinking, “Antibiotics and hormones? That’s hardly new news.” And you’d be absolutely right. But that doesn’t mean you should give them any less attention. Now more than ever, consumers want to know not just where their meat comes from, but what went into raising the animals. If you don’t have an explanation ready, you’ll miss an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with your consumers about this important topic. This is no easy feat with the large volume of myths, falsehoods and disinformation that exists on the internet, in documentaries and on news outlets. As knowledgeable members of the meat industry, we must continue to educate those around us who are well-intentioned but often misinformed.

Outlook for 2019: Putting communications in place to help consumers make their own decisions on this always timely topic will become increasingly important.

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 Agree? Disagree? Share your own thoughts on the top 2018 meat industry headlines in the comments below.

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