Foodie Friday: We’ve Got the MEAT! The 2018 Annual Meat Conference

I’ll admit it: I’m a meathead.

My more than 30-year career in and around the meat industry has given me many up-close engagements with the world of meat—from farming and production to processing and packaging to retailing and marketing. That’s why I’m looking forward to the 2018 Annual Meat Conference this weekend, hosted in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. The conference will provide attendees with a jam-packed weekend of networking, learning, connecting, and immersing themselves in this innovative and essential industry. Today, we’ll look at a few exciting meat-centric trends sure to be on display at the AMC this weekend.

Mindful Meat

A prominent prediction among Mintel’s 5 Global Food and Drink Trends for 2018 is that consumers crave transparency and honesty from food companies on every level of business and throughout every stage of production. As the report states:

“Widespread distrust places pressure on manufacturers to offer thorough and honest disclosures about how, where, when and by whom food and drink is grown, harvested, made and/or sold. The need for reassurance about the safety and trustworthiness of food and drink has led to increased use of natural as well as ethical and environmental claims in global food and drink launches. In addition to more specific product details, the next wave of clean label will challenge manufacturers and retailers to democratize transparency and traceability so that products are accessible to all consumers regardless of household income.”

This trending focus is an opportunity for meat producers to showcase their high ethical standards, environmental consciousness, and commitment to quality in their offerings. Expect to see responsibility and sustainability communicated from many conscientious meat companies exhibiting at the conference.

The Bold and the Flavorful

Younger, diverse consumers (Millennials and Gen Z in particular) are increasingly eager to try new flavors and buy meat products chock-full of assertive spices and seasonings.

Director of Market Intelligence for the National Pork Board Patrick Fleming says: “It appeals to that younger customer who’s looking for flavor and heat. With Cajun, or andouille, we’re getting in line with some of the trends we’re seeing around…flavors with a little zing.”

Great news for foodies with a love for big, bold tastes and global flavor profiles. Look for new smoky, spicy, sweet, savory, and even boozy additions to sausage, deli meat, and prepared food product lines.


A Wealth of Health

As is typical early in the year—and will likely continue strong through beach vacation season—many consumers are focused on re-booting their diets to incorporate healthier choices. Enter popular programs like The Whole30, a thirty-day, Paleo-friendly diet challenge that promises myriad positive results, including conquering problematic cravings and improving blood sugar levels. Carnivores can cooperate with this meat-friendly meal plan that urges participants to seek out grass-fed, pastured, and other clean label varieties of animal protein.

For utmost convenience, the pre-portioned meal-kit company Blue Apron has partnered with The Whole30 to deliver plan-compliant meals to subscribers currently on the elimination diet.  Another enterprising company, DNX Foods, has developed Whole30-approved meat-and-superfood bars made with grass-fed beef and bison and free-range chicken.  These initiatives reveal an opportunity for meat companies to seize the moment and provide high-quality protein that today’s health-conscious consumers demand.

Let’s look forward to the creativity, celebration, connection, and carnivorous camaraderie this weekend has in store. Happy Foodie Friday!


And, of course, for something a little weird…

While we’re sure to see and discuss many innovations in the meat industry in the coming days, nothing quite touches the science-fiction level of technological invention the folks at the start-up JUST are attempting with “cellular agriculture”—a.k.a. lab-grown meats. Check out this fascinating article to learn how these savvy food scientists are making meat from the most fundamental raw materials yet—the animals’ cells!

Posted in: Food and Drink, Food Experiences, Food Trends, Foodie Friday, Health and Diet, Industry Trends

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