Self-Quarantine Reflections: Two Action Steps for the Meat Industry

March 23, 2020

Self-Quarantine Reflections: Two Action Steps for the Meat Industry

by  

Danette Amstein


Reading Time: 3 minutes

Like you I am trying to wrap my head around what has transpired in the last week because of COVID-19. I am writing this on Sunday afternoon – Day #8 of our family’s self-quarantine. Why? Because my husband and daughter were in NYC when things got crazy. When they returned home, I had to make a choice: quarantine with them or move somewhere else for 14 days. I chose the former. Right or wrong, we are in this together!

Unlike many of you I have not been to a grocery store (or anywhere else for that matter) for more than a week; however, I have seen the photos of empty meat cases (except for the plant-based sections… that says something doesn’t it?  A future blog perhaps?) It’s a stark depiction of our current reality.

At Midan we have closed our physical offices but are fortunate that we have the technology and infrastructure to allow our entire team to work from home. We are being diligent about checking in on team members, many of whom are isolated with their spouses/partners and children. Some parents are even taking on the role of teacher for their kids. It is chaotic but spirits are high and the “we can do this” attitude is strong.

Knowing our team is hanging in there, we started having conversations with our clients. Some added shifts, trying to run at full capacity while dealing with plant team members who are out due to illness or their children’s schools being shut down. More chaos, but also more “we can do this” attitudes.

And what about our consumer? While there may have been a lot of early denial that then turned into toilet paper panic, that tide turned as the number of infected Americans has grown to more than 33,000 (per the CDC, updated 3.23.20) and nine states told everyone to stay at home. These numbers are climbing daily.

Two interesting observations:

1) Now is the time to expand our consumer’s culinary confidence.

When measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 started ramping up, the meat cases were wiped out. That means consumers were buying anything and everything. Given that the 2020 Power of Meat study cited that 83% of consumers purchase only a handful of cuts/kinds of meat and poultry, primarily due to their lack in confidence of meat prep skills (particularly younger shoppers), this is an opportunity to help them out.

Here is a quick look at what Google searches for “How do I cook beef” looked like for the last year:

Source: Google Trends, snapshot as of 3.22.2020.

You can’t miss the uptick last week. If you don’t already have information up on how to cook your products, well, you are behind the eight ball because someone else is filling that gap.

If you have information online and have not seen a spike in page visits, you might want to upgrade your search engine optimization so consumers can find you.

Just think about the upside of consumers trying just one cut they never cooked before and having a good experience! Helping them out with cooking tips to ensure a great eating experience is a win-win all around.

2) Screen time is soaring.

Many of us got our weekly iPhone screen time reports today and well, they are what you would expect when social distancing is being implemented! If yours didn’t go up, you are in the minority. Check out this self-reported Twitter poll Mashable did Sunday afternoon:  50% of consumers taking the poll reported that their screen time was up at least 50%, 22% said more than 100%.

There is no doubt there was a lot of Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube being streamed but consumers are also passing the time exercising their thumb as they make their way through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Now is not the time to go dark. It’s more critical than ever for your company or brand to provide value-added content that demonstrates that you recognize it’s not “business as usual.” Let’s face it, everyone is looking at content and if you can provide insights on how your team is working to put meat back in meat cases, offer easy recipes using pantry staples, give meat freezing guidelines, share work from home hacks, etc., that help your consumer, you are showing the community you have worked so hard to build that you aren’t tone-deaf during this health crisis.

Here are two good examples for inspiration:

Hand Washing

Take a moment to pause and determine how you might pivot from your normal strategy to be more additive or assuring to your online community during these chaotic times

Have other observations from your time at home? I would love to hear them!

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