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AMC 2019 Top 10 Blog

Danette Amstein

Reading Time: 4 minutes
The 2019 Annual Meat Conference was all about how technology is dramatically impacting every facet of the meat business: the consumer, the product and the buying process. AMC sessions on artificial intelligence, omnichannel purchasing and the rise of meat alternatives reminded us that the industry is hurtling forward at breakneck speed.

Midan team members were on the scene in Dallas, capturing the key takeaways that can help packer/processors and retailers keep the pace. Here are our Top 10 learnings:

1. Seize the day: 23% of younger shoppers buy meat and poultry for one meal at a time
While 40% of consumers buy meat and poultry to stick in the fridge for several days, a quarter of today’s shoppers, particularly Gen Zs and younger Millennials, buy meat and poultry for only one meal at a time. For the meat industry, this ups the daily challenge to engage and inspire upcoming generations who will have more choices than ever in the meat case. (Anne-Marie Roerink, 210 Analytics LLC, The Power of Meat 2019: An In-Depth Look at Meat through the Shoppers’ Eyes)

2. Open the barn doors: the need to tell the ag story through transparency continues
Family farmer Lauren Arbogast said the question she gets asked the most on field trips to her broiler farm is, “What’s behind the barn door?” Consumers don’t know the who, the what or the how behind agricultural operations and it’s time to have honest conversations about production processes. The risk of not stepping out is greater than the risk of remaining silent; otherwise, ag critics control the story.

Turkey farmer Don Steen echoed that sentiment: Less than 2% of the American population has any connection to farming, so it’s important to show consumers who today’s family farmers are. (Lauren Arbogast, Broiler Chicken Farmer and Educator, and Don Steen, Turkey Farmer & Former Director, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Food Transparency Today: A Dialogue with the Poultry Industry)

3. Focus on the “virtual” consumer and shopping versus buying
At least 62% of consumers’ personal time is spent online, creating double identities for today’s consumers: a physical persona and a virtual persona. Virtual personas interact only through digital screens and operate completely differently than physical personas. (Virtual personas are much more trusting and likely to share personal information.)

As buying becomes increasingly automated thanks to A.I. (think repeat purchases and pantry staples), shopping will need to become more entertaining. Retail winners will treat in-store shopping as an experience, with more focus on programmable spaces vs. inventory control. Every retail organization should have a Program Manager dedicated to experiential marketing. (Leonard Brody, Creative Labs, The Great ReWrite)

4. Move over, B2C – O2O is moving in
Less than 8% of consumers buy groceries frequently online today, but that figure is expected to grow to almost 30% by 2030, as technology removes many of the perceived barriers. In-store and online shopping channels have collided, with “Online to Offline” (O2O) strategies gaining traction as retailers work to create curated and differentiated experiences in order to drive customers in store. (Chris Baker and Bobby Gibbs, Oliver Wyman, Omnichannel to Enhance the Customer Experience.)

5. Leverage A.I.: “Chuck” can help consumers shop for and prepare beef
Artificial intelligence has come to the beef case. “Chuck Knows Beef” is a new interactive, online expert powered by Artificial Intelligence that can help consumers easily access recipes, cut info and cooking tips from the Beef. It’s What for Dinner site. Chuck can be downloaded from any computer, mobile phone or voice-activated device. If a consumer standing in front of the meat case has a question about how to cook that nice flank steak that’s on sale, Chuck has the answer. (Danny Lin, Deloitte Consulting, A.I. in the Food Chain: How Companies are Using Disruptive Technologies to Win in the Meat Aisle)

6. Win at digital by optimizing and amplifying
For successful social media strategies, prioritize purchase behavior, lifestyle and online behavior over demographics when creating social content. Study your specific target to create relevant and compelling messaging, then amplify your content across multiple channels to maximize your investment. Communicate 8 times, 8 different ways. (Hilary Gerard, Cargill; Kent Harrison, Tyson Fresh Meats; Paula Skladanowski, Heinen’s; Carrie Stanley, Associated Grocers, Inc., Social Media Now: Strategies for Customer Engagement)

7. Keep your eye on plant-based meat alternatives; Gen Zs and Millennials are
Not surprisingly, Gen Z and Younger Millennials are leading the way when it comes to consuming plant-based proteins. Forty-six percent of Gen Zs already do or definitely would purchase plant-based meat and 46% of younger Millennials already do or definitely would. Of all age groups who already purchase plant-based proteins, 13% describe their diet as “meat eater” and 28% describe their diet as “flexitarian.” These figures show that close to half of younger consumers are already less committed to traditional meat and that self-defined meat eaters are reshaping their diets to eat less of it. (Anne-Marie Roerink, 210 Analytics LLC, The Power of Meat 2019: An In-Depth Look at Meat through the Shoppers’ Eyes)

8. Waste no time in considering sustainable packaging
Worldwide nearly one-third of all food produced goes uneaten. The number increases to 40% in the U.S. Packaging can help increase shelf life, decrease waste, provide recycle-ability (which can also add to the sustainability story) and provide a platform for additional important messaging. Omnichannel will play an increasing role in the “green” marketing of sustainable solutions. (Karl Deily, Sealed Air Food Care, Preparing the Meat Industry for a Waste-Free Future)

9. Make space for meal kits to reach in-store meat buyers
Meal kit sales experienced a 36% increase in just under a year in 2018, with in-store meal kit users accounting for nearly 60% of this growth. Solving the dinner dilemma for in-store shoppers is still an important driver for meal kits. Specifically, cross-merchandising with meal kit starters creates an opportunity to capture strong meat buyers. Is this growth related to the #1 takeaway above? Maybe. (Ashli Blumenfeld, Standard Meat, and Uwe Voss, HelloFresh, Meal Kits: Where Are We Now?)

10. Look beyond the slow cooker for meal prep
New cooking technologies like the Instant Pot, air fryer and sous vide cookers are changing the way consumers prepare meals. Some meat packer/processors and retailers are already providing easy recipes and meal solutions to enable consumers to use these new technologies confidently. Smart speakers are also simplifying the cooking game: More than 40% of smart speaker users have them in their kitchen, with cooking techniques being one of the most-sought after skills. (Shari Steinbach, Shari Steinbach & Associates, LLC, Trends in Cooking Technology: What’s Hot and What’s Next)