It is no secret that Texans love barbeque, which is why Dallas may be the best setting for this year’s Annual Meat Conference (AMC). Co-sponsored by the North American Meat Foundation (NAMF) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the 2017 conference will be held Feb. 19-21 at the Hilton Anatole.
A comprehensive educational program will offer attendees new ways to explore the latest developments in meat retailing. Retailers will gain the tools, insights, and inspiration to differentiate their products and services, say show organizers—and industry professionals agree.
“When it comes to consumer purchasing decisions and the future of the industry, we are all in this together,” says Seth Mortensen, marketing manager for Agri Beef, based in Boise, Idaho. “Where else can you find so many of your peers actively engaging in discussions about the future of our industry for three days? The sense of camaraderie at the conference creates an open environment that benefits everyone.”
In addition to education sessions, retailers will also have an opportunity to browse exhibits showcasing the latest in new meat and poultry products, as well as the new services and technology retailers need to increase their bottom line. Here is a sampling of what some exhibitors will feature at AMC.
Cargill Protein Group
From “food-with-a-story” products that provide consumers with more information about how the food they eat is produced, to on-trend, value-added offerings and convenient packaging, Cargill officials say they have their fingers on the pulse of today’s protein consumer. The Wichita, Kan.-based company continues to innovate with new products, both branded and private label.
Cargill will highlight its “food-with-a-story” products at its booth, which includes Pasture Crafted Beef and Honest Turkey by Honeysuckle White turkey. Pasture Crafted Beef is meticulously nurtured from pasture to plate, says Tammy Shaw, director of retail marketing. “Pasture Crafted Beef cattle come from a single ranch and are traceable from birth, with our guarantee these single-source cattle are humanely raised and handled, and grass-fed and grain-finished for outstanding quality.”
Honest Turkey by Honeysuckle White turkey is raised with care by independent family farmers and is one of the few branded turkey lines to offer antibiotic-free turkey for the most discerning and health-conscious consumers, Shaw adds.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to discover Cargill’s value-added solutions like its Today’s Kitchen line of products, which gives consumers new ways to explore different meals without time-consuming prep work; Barbacoa from Rumba Meats, Cargill’s line of variety meat cuts; and new seasonally inspired items from Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms turkey, including SummerTime citrus marinated turkey breast cutlets and cheese stuffed turkey meatballs.
Catelli Brothers, an integrated veal and lamb company, services the retail and foodservice industries with a full line of domestic and imported veal and lamb products. During AMC, the Collingswood, N.J.-based company will showcase its full range of domestic and imported case-ready veal and lamb products, which includes MAP packaged, tray-ready vacuumed and pre-cooked products.
Officials at the company are looking forward to connecting with conference attendees. “It’s a great opportunity to show potential customers our company’s capabilities in helping them grow sales of veal and lamb in their stores along with a chance to see many of our existing clients,” says Tony Catelli, president and CEO.
Certified Angus Beef
The Certified Angus Beef brand will feature its Prime cuts at the AMC Welcome Reception, and attendees can look forward to sampling fresh cut prime rib, strip and tenderloin. This beef has slightly abundant or higher marbling and meets nine more standards than USDA Prime. The smoked brisket served at the reception will also celebrate the company’s rich heritage and the role of family ranchers that are bringing their best to the table with the Certified Angus Beef brand, says Tara Adams, director of account strategy and key accounts for the Wooster, Ohio-based company.
Retailers can sample new-to-market Certified Angus Beef brand Schmacon. “Schmaltz Retail Products of Wheaton, Ill., uses carefully trimmed, whole-muscle beef cuts to make this hearty, smoked beef bacon. The product offers bold flavor on its own or in a variety of dishes due to unique, chef-inspired spices and the Certified Angus Beef brand’s signature quality,” Adams says. The beef bacon is made with all natural ingredients and does not have added nitrites or nitrates, has no fillers and is gluten-free.
“Golden West Food Group, based in Los Angeles, will also be sampling Certified Angus Beef brand seasoned taco meat and fresh corned beef at our booth,” Adams adds. “The company helps retailers bring fully cooked premium beef to the meat and deli case.”
Certified Hereford Beef
Certified Hereford Beef (CHB), based in Kansas City, Mo., is a breed specific, branded beef program owned by rancher members of the American Hereford Association. The CHB brand has strict quality standards that provide consistency in product specification and gives consumers a superior eating experience, says Amari Manning, COO.
“The goal of Certified Hereford Beef is to create an awareness of the program and breed. It is important retailers are aware there is a superior breed-specific program with strict specifications for quality and consistency in the industry that allows them to add value to their bottom line, differentiate and compete with numerous hide color programs,” Manning says. “CHB offers retailers a program that provides customized services to help them sell more beef at a profitable level.”
At AMC, attendees can learn about CHB’s case-ready items that correlate to emerging consumer-shopping trends for convenience and food safety, Manning says. The company will also feature pre-cooked, heat-and-eat items that are new to the market.
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef processes only Black Angus Cattle. The company has two comprehensive USDA beef programs: conventional and a “never ever” antibiotic-free, all natural line of products.
“In response to the updated USDA bench trim guidelines that were implemented in 2016, we introduced a line of case-ready trimmed beef,” says Jim Rogers, vice president of sales and marketing for the Arkansas City, Kan.-based company. “These ready to cut products have 95 to 100 percent yield, so they virtually eliminate bench trim and reduce shrink and labor. Add to that the quality of Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, and it is a winning program for retailers.”
Creekstone Farms has also introduced a line of All Natural Pork. The pork program is based on all natural antibiotic-free pork that is raised crate-free with no artificial ingredients added. “This means a cleaner flavor and better all-around taste,” Rogers adds.
FPL Food’s participation at AMC will emphasize the versatility, innovation and local fed cattle beef programs of its brand portfolio, says Francois Leger, president and CEO for the Augusta, Ga.-based company.
“FPL Food strives to provide retail customers with the highest level of quality and consistency,” Leger says. “FPL pairs an intimate knowledge of French provincial farming traditions with a dedication to innovation. With a variety of brands as well as commodity and value-added offerings, FPL Food is just getting started. There are exciting plans on the horizon.”
Man Cave Craft Meats
Man Cave Meats got its start by taking traditional meats and raising it to new levels of flavor and invention at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. From there, the Minneapolis-based company quickly developed a passionate fan base and became a pioneer of the craft meat movement. Last year, the company grew the number of stores carrying its products from 450 to 1,950 nationally.
At AMC, the company’s goal is “to drive home the point that with Man Cave Craft Meats, the meat case will never be the same again,” says Nick Beste, CEO and chief instigator. “We are providing real solutions for people who want amazing culinary experiences at home. With our products, you don’t have to be an accomplished chef or shell out a ton of money to eat well.
“We also want to show why our brand is a magnet for Millennials. This demographic group with tremendous buying power is looking for authentic companies that are passionate about producing high-quality products,” Beste adds. “We care about things like producing micro batches and tasting every one of those batches to ensure our products meet our standards before they land in your grocery stores. Our company is focused on taking people on a culinary adventure, and we are constantly coming up with new ways to engage Millennials. That includes everything from staying true to our craft and boosting our social media presence to launching new interactive packaging in March.”
Mettler Toledo’s solutions for grocery retail are placed to make businesses more competitive with the best possible weighing, labeling, packaging and service solutions, says Guy Dille, retail business area leader. The solutions are found in six focus zones: fresh produce, service counter, backroom, bakery, checkout and specialty.
During AMC, the Columbus, Ohio-based company will demonstrate its 880 Auto Wrapper, the new 840 Manual Label Printer on a Step-Saver Manual Handwrap Station and the new Mettler Toledo Retail Suite (MTRS) Software.
“We look forward demonstrating our newest weighing technology to the key retail leaders and backroom managers attending the Annual Meat Conference,” says Dille. “Retailers can improve backroom efficiency with the solutions being demonstrated at the booth, solutions ranging from manual hand wrap stations to fully automatic wrapping machines.”
National Beef, based in Kansas City, Mo., is a beef processor that provides solutions in fresh beef for customers worldwide. The company has six operating facilities located throughout the U.S. During the AMC, National Beef will share the breadth of its value-add beef offerings and emphasize its new products, says Keith Welty, vice president of marketing.
“National Beef is a leader in never-ever natural beef with more than a decade of category expertise and strong alliances with midwestern ranchers raising cattle naturally,” Welty says. “We will be presenting our three comprehensive natural programs.”
To better meet the needs of customers, the company has adapted its Natural Angus Beef program with new trade packaging and refreshed merchandising materials. For customers seeking natural beef that delivers the most premium eating experience, the Certified Angus Beef Natural brand is newly available from National Beef. The company will also launch its Fresh Pack’d portion-cut steaks, roasts and ground beef for retailers seeking a shelf-ready Natural Angus Beef program.
National Pork Board
The National Pork Board Retail Program works with the food-retail community to promote the fresh and flavor-added pork categories. Through market intelligence and insights, pork industry news and meat case education, the National Pork Board is a strong partner to food retailers to promote pork, says Patrick Fleming, director of market intelligence and innovation for the Des Moines, Iowa-based company. Additionally, the National Pork Board works closely with retailers, wholesalers, independent grocers, and packers and processors to promote pork through advertising, public relations, direct contact, event marketing and education.
“Our team members always look forward to attending the Annual Meat Conference to network with colleagues, learn the most up-to-date information on food retail market trends and offer our knowledge for any pork promotion questions,” Fleming says. “Our job is to be a valued asset to the meat buyers, to ensure we are developing promotion, sharing market insights and creating educational materials that will increase their bottom line.”
This year, the National Pork Board is also co-presenting the breakout session, “Communicating the Story to Consumers,” focused on utilizing the pork industry as an illustrative, real-world case study for this session using examples of on-pack labels, in-store point-of-sale materials and online consumer engagement opportunities.
Perdue’s goal is to be the most trusted name in premium protein, say company officials. To earn consumers’ trust, the company, based in Salisbury, Md., offers a portfolio of trusted brands, innovative products, consistent high quality and transparent practices, officials add.
In response to increased consumer interest in how their food is raised and where it comes from, Perdue unveiled its Commitment to Animal Care in 2016. At this year’s AMC, the company will bring that commitment to life by sharing a four-part plan and showcasing some of the extra steps it takes in an effort to raise happy and healthy chickens. Perdue is a leader in raising organic chickens, and has changed its practices by raising nearly all of its chickens with “no antibiotics ever,” officials add.
“We have a proud heritage of going above and beyond in all we do,” says Eric Christianson, senior vice president of marketing and innovation. “It’s why Perdue is trusted by Americans. And raising animals with the highest care is no exception in fulfilling our brand promise to consumers. Raising chickens with care for people who care; of course, it’s hard to do. But it’s the right thing to do, and it’s also a lot of fun.”
Officials at Smithfield Foods are eager to connect with attendees at this year’s conference to showcase the improvements the company has made to its base business, share insights and give attendees first-hand experience with the company’s new innovations, says Ken Sullivan, CEO for the Smithfield, Va.-based company.
“We have a very focused innovation approach that targets specific consumer eating occasions such as breakfast and snacking, but also have innovation platforms around barbeque and health and wellness,” Sullivan says. “Consumers—and especially Millennial consumers—want to know how and where their food was grown or made. In turn, this has driven an increased demand for products that are raised without antibiotics.”
Smithfield will introduce its Pure Farms brand, which includes a full portfolio of antibiotic-free products such as ham, sausage, fresh pork and bacon to meet this need.
Officials at Strauss Brands say AMC is their favorite show of the year. “It is where we go to catch up with old friends, share new product ideas and hopefully, earn the opportunity to work with new partners who want to grow sales of the premium protein categories,” says Lori Dunn, executive director of the Franklin, Wis.-based company. “Our goal is to be a problem solver for our partners—by helping to grow sales throughout superior quality, great packaging, transparent raising standards and exceptional customer service.”
At the conference, Strauss Brands officials will educate retailers about how they can stay on-trend to meet the needs of growing consumers who are choosing to dine in more. “This gives retailers a fantastic opportunity to provide chef-quality products that will give at-home cooks a restaurant-quality experience—with items such as thick-cut steaks, aged meats and transparent raising standards which offer ‘chef’s selection’ feel to the home cook,” Dunn says.
The company will also showcase its new line packaging, which is aimed at de-mystifying the art of cooking veal and lamb, by giving simple on-pack cooking instructions and meal inspirations.
Tyson Fresh Meats
Tyson Fresh Meats will introduce Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork, in addition to showcasing Open Prairie Natural Pork and Open Prairie Natural Angus beef.
Prime Pork has been added to the Chairman’s Reserve brand offering to help turn the meat case into a destination for a top-shelf pork eating experience, says Kent Harrison, vice president of marketing and premium programs for the Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based company. “With more stringent criteria than the competition, Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork offers optimal marbling, coloring and pH, resulting in superior quality hand-selected and hand-trimmed pork,” Harrison says.
Open Prairie Natural Pork launched at the 2016 AMC and continues to meet the growing consumer demand for naturally raised pork, Harrison notes. It has no artificial ingredients or added hormones, he adds.
“Tyson Fresh Meats is committed to providing retail customers with the quality and variety of fresh meat products they seek, backed by unmatched service and support,” Harrison says. “Tyson Fresh Meats can deliver a custom-designed program and product mix that will satisfy your needs and help achieve your business goals.”