Convenient, natural and authentic products flooded the show floor Monday at the North American Meat Institute’s 2018 Annual Meat Conference in Nashville. More than 100 suppliers and 200 retailer representatives gathered at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center to explore the industry’s latest innovations and trends, with brand storytelling and transparency claims top of mind.
Creativity, customization and an elevated brand experience were some of the key factors Neil Stern, senior partner of McMillanDoolittle, pointed to for retailers to stay relevant in today’s evolving market during Sunday’s general session, "Maintaining Relevancy: Retail Trends Impacting Today’s World and Beyond." Meal kits will play a prominent role in terms of convenience and innovation, while digital experiences and customer reach will remain vital for differentiating brands and highlighting sustainability and animal care practices.
“Make your own story,” Stern said. “Make it work for you and your company. That’s how we’re going to be relevant in the future.”
Cargill’s booth, themed Protein Powered by Insights, featured a 360-degree video experience that transported its visitors to every step of the supply chain—from a cattle ranch and chicken farm to its culinary center and packaging facility—providing a transparent look at the brand’s story and innovations.
“We’ve spent the past two years transforming our business to deliver protein powered by insights that help our customers get ahead of these emerging food trends,” said Chuck Gitkin, chief marketing officer for Cargill Protein, in a statement. “We know our customers want to meet growing demand while providing greater variety, new flavors and increased farm-to-fork transparency.”
The company also utilized an interactive digital meat case, rather than a fresh meat case, to highlight 28 value-added deli, fresh and frozen products, including several new items such as its cranberry-jalapeno turkey patties.
Tyson Fresh Meats showcased several meal kit products as well as its Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork brand, which the company said tested 25% more tender than other leading brands of pork without added solution. In a third-party study, measures were taken to ensure factors affecting tenderness were equal, including product age, cooking temperature and cut location for shear testing.
“The sheer force method is an objective measurement,” said Heather Rose, senior specialist in fresh meat research for Tyson, in a statement. “When you ask consumers about meat tenderness, their responses could be very relative—this method gives us precise values that measure the amount of force it takes to cut meat.”
Founded in 1943, Carl Buddig and Co. celebrated 75 years of business at the Meat Conference. The Buddig family of products has expanded over the years, beginning with the acquisition of the Old Wisconsin Sausage Company in 1981. In 2017, the company reached a multiyear agreement to produce Kingsford branded precooked ribs and barbecue entrees.
“We’re excited to celebrate 75 years of business with our customers, since they are who got us to where we are today,” said Tom Buddig, EVP of marketing for Carl Buddig. “We are currently planning a variety of fun celebrations for our anniversary year, from consumer promotions to TV and digital media throughout key markets in the United States.”