Background Banner

Differentiating meat

Published: Nov 10, 2003

TUCSON, AZ., November 6 “Consumers are genuinely concerned about the safety of their food,” and increasingly the response is the use of brands to “differentiate” products “by farmers, processors and even retailers who are desperate to defend themselves from price competition,” Richard Brown, a director of Gira, a European research company told the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Board of Directors Strategic Planning and Marketing Conference here today.

Speaking on the theme, “Differentiation in Meat … an Opportunity or a Distraction?” Brown came down heavily on the side of opportunity.

“Political, consumer and commercial pressure for ‘better’ ways of producing meat, especially beef, which is the great marketing challenge,” will force the pace of change from commodity selling of beef to brand sales by U.S. exporting companies and by retail stores worldwide which sell U.S. meat, Brown concluded.

Simply branding beef and pork cuts or producing ready-to-eat products is not enough, of course. Successful brands need a reliable supply and intelligent, sustained marketing support, added Brown.

Brown also moderated a panel of USMEF experts —Vice President Asia Pacific Joel Haggard, Europe, Russia and the Middle East Director Jackie Hruby, Vice President Western Hemisphere Homero Recio and Manager, Consumer Affairs, Research & Communications (Japan) Shinobu Shimada — who answered questions from USMEF directors on the theme, “How Branding Issues Impact Our Markets.”

The panel concurred that branded meat products offered the brightest future for U.S. meat exports, but, reflecting the diversity of approach needed by USMEF to continue export success in widely different markets, they expressed differences in how brands of the future would affect their markets. Whereas in Mexico, for example, the USDA inspection seal sets off U.S. products from domestic competition, which is not required to come from federally inspected plants, in Japan and much of Asia proven standards of good safety are now the norm.

The question of brand versus category promotion was raised in the panel discussion. The panel members were unanimous that while promoting U.S. pork and beef as categories in the past had achieved astonishing export success, more mature markets need promotion of brands differentiated from each other and competitors. Also, since our competitors are certainly turning to brands the U.S. will have to follow suit to avoid losing market share.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the  U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.