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Top Six Meat Industry Trends

Michael Uetz

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There’s a saying in the Midan office: “What got us here, won’t get us there.” It’s a reminder that we need to keep our game sharp to compete in the ever-evolving meat industry. It was in that same vein that my partner Danette Amstein and I presented the top meat industry trends at the 2018 North American Meat Institute (NAMI) Meat Industry Summit in San Antonio in April. When the finish line is always moving, keeping your eye on these macro trends is one way to set yourself up for success in 2020 and beyond:

  • Move over, Millennials: Just as we’re getting up to speed on the soon-to-be-largest generation of Millennials, along comes Gen Z (those born after 1996). By 2020, Gen Z will account for 2.5 billion of the global population and 40% of all consumers. Gen Zs use their social network to determine what products to buy and read negative reviews first to validate purchases. Think fast – you have only 8 seconds to capture the attention of a Gen Z.
  • Educated eating is the new norm: As health and wellness move from trendy to mainstream, consumers want to know more about sourcing, ingredients and process. According to the 2018 Power of Meat study, retail sales for meat with claims like “no antibiotics ever” and “no added hormones” are up almost 5%. Proclaim your brand story to take advantage of the “educated eating” bandwagon.
  • Prepare for the global shift to more plant-based diets: Younger generations are redefining protein and leading the way in plant-based consumption. Movements like flexitarianism (flexible eating that allows consumers to choose when to replace meat with plant-based proteins) are likely to become more than just fad diets. Don’t give up the fight — keep your product messaging tight and on target to keep meat-based proteins on the center of the plate.
  • Sustainability is a wide umbrella: The sustainability attributes that consumers value run the gamut from animal welfare to responsible land and water use. (In fact, recent Midan research revealed that only 47% of fresh beef consumers could provide any clear definition for sustainably raised beef.) Focus on sharing the sustainability measures you have in place — get credit for the good work you are already doing — and work collaboratively to support industry-wide sustainability standards that offer clear guidance to consumers.
  • Businesses must be see-through to their core: Consumers not only want to see what you do, they want to know what you value. Transparency isn’t limited to the products a business makes; it relates back to how a company conducts business – down to how they treat their employees. Recognize that consumers are seeking products and companies whose values align with theirs.
  • High tech is here to stay: Technology is reshaping the way food is produced, purchased and enjoyed. While advancements like artificial intelligence, robotics and blockchain might initially feel like unwelcome disruptions, they have the capability to revolutionize meat production. Ready or not, technology is forcing us to rethink the meat business – buckle up for the ride!

Another important way to stay ahead of the curve is to know your target consumers inside and out. Learn more about our Meat Consumer Segmentation research.


About the Author

Michael is a Managing Principal in our Chicago office. Along with Danette Amstein, he is responsible for establishing and maintaining Midan’s vision and strategic direction and works with meat industry partners to effectively outline business strategies and tactics to help them realize their marketing and operations goals. Michael’s long-term connection with the meat industry started on his family’s ranch in North Dakota and blossomed during his time at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, where he met a co-worker named Danette. As a guest speaker, industry committee member and writer of social content posts, Michael has become a respected thought leader in the meat industry. When he isn’t meeting with our partners, chances are he’s riding a horse in cutting competitions or on a cattle drive in the Badlands. He also enjoys working out, watching movies, reading and spending time with family and friends.
Michael Uetz