Guest post: Red meat sector needs to be proactive, innovative and inspiring

Kit Arkwright, Beef + Lamb NZ Inc
Kit Arkwright, Beef + Lamb NZ Inc

An unfortunate side-effect of Kit Arkwright’s job as marketing manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc is that he finds himself spending more and more time reading the comments sections underneath meat articles posted on social media, he writes.

These channels can often act as a platform for the public to have reasoned and intelligent debates on the challenges facing our industry, providing a useful barometer of people’s perceptions. However, it can also be a hotbed for extreme and polarising views that end up with insults being hurled from behind the virtual barricades. In short, it can conjure up a demoralising view of the world.

However, after recently attending the International Meat Secretariat’s Marketing Workshop – which brings together livestock producer associations, national meat associations, exporters, processing companies, government, and corporate partners from around the world – a reassuring take away was that, despite our varied backgrounds and cultures, we are all facing some very similar challenges.

A recurring theme throughout the conference was those – or should I say us given I am one – pesky millennials. They are our future parents, primary shoppers and policy makers. They are a group that often identify more with their own age group from other nationalities than they do with their fellow countrymen and women. We need to put them at the centre of what we do if we are to continue to keep meat relevant.

We are also in a paradigm-shift regarding our industry – we are no longer the ‘meat category’ we now play in the ‘protein category’. That means we sit alongside a much wider portfolio of options. Whether that be plant-based proteins, alternative proteins or even a protein shake, we are fighting in a much busier crowd and they all want a slice of our action.

So, we need to redefine what we are offering. We need to be proactive, innovative and inspiring to keep our head above the parapet. As one of the conference presenters abstractly put it, if a consumer wants their car cleaned, they do not want a bucket and sponge, they simply want a clean car.

But it’s not all bad. Meat is still aspirational at a global scale and demand is outstripping supply – but that can lead to complacency. We need initiatives that redefine and reposition our industry to keep it relevant to these easily distracted and digitally native millennials.

The World Butchers’ Challenge (WBC) was singled out by our fellow conference delegates as a shining example of how we can do this and I am excited to see how the team at WBC will continue to grow this incredible competition.

And on that note, check out where the next World Butchers’ Challenge is to be held in 2020. A venue fit for kings is all I’ll say!

This Guest Post has been provided by Beef + Lamb NZ Inc, a MeatExportNZ supporter.


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