Thursday, May 8, 2014

3 Ways For Meat Execs to Stay On Top of Changing Meat Trends in a Tight Market

As an executive in the meat industry, changing consumer trends often present unique opportunities for growth and expansion. As a graduate student of marketing at Northwestern University with experience in the meat industry, I have found two articles addressing and analyzing this changing market. 

This article entitled “Oh, you are offal but I do like you” by Victoria Robinson helps explain what offal is and how it functions as a profitable food trend. Animal organs haven’t seen a resurgence since the WWII era when they were widely available, but baby boomers rejected these staples soon after for more conventional food items. Offal’s re-emergence on food menus as of late is something food scientist, Miranda Mirosa of Otago University, attributes to a type of “food nostalgia”.  

Above: Pork rinds with spiced honey, a popular offal dish at Milwaukee’s trendy restaurant, Beta

This other article, “Game Meat, Organ Meat, and Marrow—What is Fueling the Fire?” by popular food blogger, Jennifer Nordwall, describes the growing popularity in today’s restaurant scene of game meats and other “strange” new exotic cuts. She ties the mainstreaming of off-beat products like elk, wild boar, and sweetbreads into other over-arching current food trends like buying local, nutritional value, and a growing consumer need for adventure and experimentation. 


Left: An assortment of Wild Game; Right: Nutritional information on game meats puts them ahead of beef and pork

After reviewing these two excellent articles, I have found three action items you need to implement immediately.  They are:

1. Research! - Don't get caught off guard when other industry professionals or customers ask about these cuts.

2) Network, network, network - Companies like Sierra Meat and D'Artagnan procure and distribute many unique cuts. Call them, get an idea of the market, add it to your portfolio.

3) Talk to your customers - Once you have the knowledge and have expanded your portfolio and vendor network, let your customers know you are offering some unique new cuts. Gauge their interest, send samples, and show them how this could help their business. 

 As meat professionals in an ever tightening meat market where beef tenderloin and strip loins are growing increasingly more expensive, it is crucial to stay adrift with changing trends in the meat industry so as to not get caught behind when competitors offer more options and lower prices.  

Alana Heber has been a Sales/ Marketing Manager for a wholesale meat purveyor in the Chicago Stockyards for over three years. She has is soon to obtain a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) from Northwestern University-Medill and intends to pursue a career in marketing within the foodservices or CPG industry.

Follow her on Twitter @AEHeber 
LinkedIn Alana Heber 

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