Meat Your Markets By Mack Graves
Mack Graves has worked in animal-food proteins for the past 39 years, specializing in corporate strategy, management focus and marketing effectiveness across the protein chain.

A sausage fest foretells the future

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

If you like sausage, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) 2018 Meat Industry Summit’s Annual Sausage Fest competition is for you.  I got to the venue late this past Monday evening due to my delayed flight, but I made up for lost time by gorging myself on the eight different sausages in the contest.  Sweet, spicy, hot and saucy, it was all there.

But as I was enjoying the wining sausage, I began to wonder, was the world ready for another tube steak?  Seriously, is another sausage variety the best our industry can come up with for our future?  I hope not since the future, as I was about to learn, is almost beyond our wildest dreams or nightmares.

At the Summit, I listened and watched in wonder to two dynamic presentations on the transformational trends of the future by global futurist Jack Uldrich and tomorrow’s meat consumers by Midan Marketing’s Danette Amstein and Michael Uetz.  Our meat industry future is going to be a bumpy but exciting ride, should we choose to participate.

According to Mr. Uldrich, we must approach the future with awareness, humility and action.  That means that if you were just getting used to 4G on your mobile device, you better accept that 5G is just around the corner which is 1000 times more advanced and certainly better.  Additionally, 3D printing of virtually everything, including a complete house, robotics instead of human workers and sensors on every physical thing imaginable will become more prevalent. 

Mr. Uldrich told us that everything will advance at a geometric pace.  That reminded me of the old riddle, “Would you rather have $1,000,000 dollars right now or one penny doubled every day for a month?”  The $1,000,000 even with the 30 days of accrued compounded interest is still less than the penny that grows starting on day one from $.01 to $.02 on day two, to $.04 on day three, to $.08 on day four, to $.16 on day five, and so on every day for the rest of the month as that equals $5,368,709.12.  Go ahead, check my math if you don’t believe me.

In light of these impending crescendos, how do we prepare protein products for our consumers of the future?  Again I implore you, please tell me that another sausage iteration is not the best we can do in the new protein product arena. 

First things first.  We need to change our industry definition from meat or beef or chicken etc., to protein as both Uldrich and the Midan folks were definitive and determined in saying that plant-based or petri dish proteins are going to be a much larger future reality than we can even imagine now.

Get used to it.  These non-meat “meat” items are capturing protein market share right now and they are being funded at astounding rates.  They may not totally replace real meat or poultry, but they will become viable protein products that many consumers will either alternate with real meat or replace it.

And, these new proteins are fast working toward duplicating real meat taste and then what point of difference do we have?

The folks from Midan Marketing forcefully informed the attendees that while Millennials may seem to demand our attention now, get ready for Gen Z as they are right around the corner.  And what are the concerns for both Millennials and Gen Z?  We should know by now—transparency, sustainability and the environment top the list. 

If you want to attract these new and soon to be dominant consumers, Danette and Michael had one word of advice—disruptive.  That’s right, new meat products for the future have to be supported by all the things mentioned while being disruptive enough to break thru to these future consumers utilizing social media.

And, the most disturbing thing Midan told us is that worldwide 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually.  That would feed the world’s hungry.  As an industry, we must lead in the effort to do something about that!

In concluding his presentation, futurist Uldrich quoted that long gone management guru, Peter Drucker, who said, “The way to predict the future is to create it.” 

And that, my friends, is our challenge.


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