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Meat Up in Music City

Meat and poultry professionals will converge on Nashville, Tenn., to learn about the latest product and technology innovations at this year’s Annual Meat Conference.


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The Hot Chicken Capital will make room for more than just chicken this month when industry officials and retail buyers gather for the Annual Meat Conference (AMC). Co-sponsored by the North American Meat Institute Foundation (NAMIF) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the 2016 show, which will be held Feb. 21-23 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., will offer educational, networking and sampling opportunities for meat and poultry professionals alike. 

This year, AMC will once again combine its Innovative Technology Solutions exhibit with the Product Testing Reception to create a larger and longer exhibit. The exhibit marries taste with technology and services that retailers need to improve their bottom line, say show organizers. 

Educational sessions will cover a variety of topics effecting the meat industry today, including regulation, dynamics of the meat case, e-commerce trends and growth, and consumer consumption trends, to name a few. 

Show organizers expect more than 75 companies to exhibit their meat and poultry products as well as technology to more than 200 retailer attendees. Here is a sampling of what some exhibitors will showcase at AMC. 

 Cargill Meat Solutions  

Cargill’s values and principles come from decades of working with thousands of family farmers, ranchers and producers who support its business, say officials for the Minneapolis-based company. 

“Consumers are asking for more from their food manufacturers and want to know where, how and by whom it is produced,” says Brian Bell, vice president of sales and marketing. “That’s why we believe transparency is about visibility and honesty, and why we’re committed to being as open as possible.

“We also know consumer habits are evolving, and we’re evolving with them,” Bell adds. “Cargill is determined to provide consumers options to keep meat a relevant and realistic choice on their plates.”

Cargill will sample its multi-protein and value-added meat offerings. The company will also explain how it is leveraging its decades of experience, cutting-edge innovations and core beliefs to help ensure the reputation of grocers, retailers and foodservice providers—and how it is working to gain the trust of meat consumers, Bell adds.

 Carl Buddig & Co. 

Carl Buddig & Co., the parent company of Buddig lunchmeat and Old Wisconsin hardwood smoked sausage and snack products, offers an assortment of quality, thin-sliced lean meats for sandwiches, snacks and special recipes including Buddig Original, Premium Deli and Fix Quix products.

Carl Buddig will showcase two new products: Old Wisconsin Fast Fuel and Natural Cut by Old Wisconsin. “We launched these new brands, which were designed and developed to appeal to consumers that are looking for on-the-go protein snacks and natural and better-for-you products,” says Thomas R. Buddig, executive vice president of marketing for the Homewood, Ill.-based company.  

Fast Fuel Sticks and Bites are an authentically hardwood-smoked, shelf-stable, high-protein, low-calorie meat snack good for on-the-go snacking. Natural Cut Bites, Sticks and Summer Sausage are 100 percent natural, and do not contain nitrates, artificial ingredients or preservatives.

 Catelli Brothers 

Catelli Brothers—the 70-year-old Collingswood, N.J.-based family-run business that specializes in veal and lamb—is now part of the Fontelli Food Group, one of the largest producers of veal in North America. The company’s core business supplies retail supermarkets and foodservice distributors with a wide selection of veal and lamb primal, block-ready, case-ready and portion controlled products. The company offers milk and grain fed veal, along with American, Australian and New Zealand lamb. 

“Our goal is to help grow this category with our retail customers by offering a product line that is tailored to their needs,” says Tony Catelli, president and CEO. “Whether retailers want to cut the product themselves or offer a pre-packaged, branded product that is easy to display, we want to show that veal and lamb can be offered in a variety of affordable cuts. Our SQF certified company is committed to producing safe, quality foods while ensuring we practice humane animal handling.” 

Catelli will highlight a full variety of more than 50 veal and lamb case-ready products intended to meet every price point needed for today’s variety of customers. The company has a full line of ground products including veal, lamb and pork. Company officials will discuss its popular Butchers Blend of beef, veal and pork for its Meatloaf and Meatball Mix, as well as its pre-formed burgers and sliders. Catelli adds that the company will introduce two new products—Lamb Meatballs and Sausage Meatballs—very soon.

 Certified Angus Beef 

Certified Angus Beef, the co-sponsor of AMC’s welcome reception, will feature its Certified Angus Beef brand rib, strip loin and tenderloin roasts at the Product Tasting Reception. Several convenient meal solutions will also debut at the reception. For example, Golden West Food Group, based in Los Angeles, helps retailers bring fully cooked premium beef to the meat and deli case, say officials for Wooster, Ohio-based Certified Angus Beef. New items from Golden West include Certified Angus Beef brand beer chili, flank steak and steakhouse tri-tip.

A selection of ground beef, chuck and round chubs will also be on display to help retailers capture growing consumer interest in restaurant-quality burgers and more. “Ground beef has become a key point of differentiation for retailers, and the beef for these Certified Angus Beef brand items meets all 10 of our exacting quality standards, adding a level of distinction to the meat case,” says Tara Adams, director, supplier and account marketing at Certified Angus Beef. “Newer lean points and package sizes allow retailers to distinguish their ground beef selections and capture growing market share of beef’s largest category.” 

The company is also working with Colorado Premium Foods to launch aged, perfectly portioned Certified Angus Beef brand steaks and steak tips, Adams adds. Two 4-ounce portions will be offered in easy-peel vacuum packaging, which features nutrition-forward messaging to communicate the beef’s protein and vitamin density in a less than  200-calorie portion. The ready-to-cook fresh cuts are center-cut ribeye, center-cut strip, center-cut sirloin, rib cap filet, flat iron filet and aged beef rib and loin steak tips.

  Corbion Purac 

Corbion Purac has more than 80 years of fermentation experience and offers bio-based products made from renewable resources that are applied in global markets such as bakery, meat, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, home and personal care, packaging, automotive and coating resins. In meat and poultry, the Lenexa, Kan.-based company offers a range of preservations solutions including Verdad and Opti.Form, which ensure high levels of food safety and shelf life for ready-to-eat fresh meat and poultry products. 

“Corbion Purac’s newest multifunctional ingredient solutions, Verdad Avanta are blends of natural ingredients that will help manufacturers achieve food safety standards without sacrificing process yield or consumer appeal in a wide range of ready-to-eat and fresh meat and poultry products while meeting demands for natural and clean labels,” says Tom Rourke, senior business development manager. 

Available as a convenient powder, the vinegar blends are ready to use and have been developed to respond to specific challenges, including listeria control in cured meats and shelf life extension in fresh sausages.

 Creekstone Farms 

Creekstone Farms may be known for its quality Black Angus Beef, but attendees at the AMC will find the Arkansas City, Kan.-based company touting what it offers beyond Black Angus Beef. Attendees will be able to learn about Creekstone’s Premium ABF (antibiotic-free) Duroc Pork program—which is a case-ready program—as well as its line of Black Angus Non-GMO Beef. All case-ready items are vacuum packed with a 28-day shelf life. 

“This program helps retailers provide a greater selection with limited shrink risk,” says Jim Rogers, vice president of sales and marketing. “Many of our current customers have created special ABF destinations within their meat case—and consumers are loving it. Instead of shopping for protein items at a natural food store, they are enjoying the convenience of one-stop shopping at conventional supermarkets.” 

All packages feature labels printed with product attributes on both the front and back for easier accessibility. As customer demand continues to grow, the company’s programs will also grow, adding new offerings regularly, Rogers says.

“Our ultimate goal is to deliver the freshest, tastiest products in the most convenient way possible for our customers,” he adds. 

 Land O’Frost 

With more than 50 years of experience, Land O’Frost offers high-quality lunchmeat, sausage and franks throughout the country. The family-owned brand of packaged deli meat has a portfolio of national and regional brands, which include Land O’Frost Premium One Pound deli pouch, DeliShaved, Bistro Favorites, Wimmer’s, Ambassador, Bassett’s and Fairbury Brand Meats. 

The Munster, Ind.-based company has grown to the second largest brand and is the only organization to grow in both volume (plus-five percent) and dollars (plus-eight percent) among the top three brands for the 26 weeks ended Nov. 28, 2015, according to Nielsen data. Continued expansion of Premium, Bistro and DeliShaved lunchmeats has resulted in a 5.6 percent dollar growth over the same time period. The balance of the company’s growth resulted from the national launch of Simply Delicious, which contributed to more than half of its growth, say company officials.

Land O’Frost plans to introduce more products in 2016, officials add.

 Mettler Toledo 

Mettler Toledo—a global manufacturer of precision instruments for use in laboratory, industrial and grocery retailing applications—offers weighing, labeling, packaging and service solutions. In the meat backroom, the Columbus, Ohio-based company’s weighing, wrapping and labeling solutions increase productivity for total backroom optimization, say company officials. 

Mettler Toledo’s new 880 Auto Wrapper was built for operation in the meat/seafood backroom. It features an industrial design, intuitive controls, simple film/label changes, and is easy to clean. The small footprint is designed to save valuable space in a busy backroom and it has reduced power consumption and an energy saving mode to help contribute to lowering the total cost of ownership. A proactive service model with planned preventive maintenance also ensures the highest level of uptime, officials add.

Mettler Toledo also offers a complete line of service counter scales, including PC-based scales, designed to fit a business’s needs. The company’s extensive service network ensures maximized efficiency and productivity of operations, say officials. 

 Perdue Foods  

Perdue Foods will spread the word about its efforts to remove antibiotics in its existing products, as well as new product introductions. 

The company, which started raising chickens with no antibiotics in 2002, has made its entire line of frozen, Heat and Eat, and Perfect Portions chicken antibiotic-free. In an effort to raise consumer confidence about this change, the company has added a “No Antibiotics Ever” label to the products. “Consumers want to know what’s in the food they serve their families,” says Eric Christianson, senior vice president of marketing and innovation at Perdue, based in Salisbury, Md.

“In addition to upgrading all of our popular convenience products to ‘No Antibiotics Ever,’ we’re also launching more than 20 new convenience items like individually-wrapped restaurant quality Perdue Encrusted Chicken Breast Fillets,” Christianson adds. “New Perdue Short Cuts Singles and Perdue Nuggets Singles are on-the-go portions of our most popular products.”

 Smithfield Foods  

Entering its 80th year, Smithfield Foods will celebrate several major accomplishments and introduce products in three of its national brands—Smithfield, Eckrich and Nathan’s Famous.

“Smithfield topped off 2015 as the country’s fastest-growing bacon brand and also launched a new premium signature ground pork,” says Chuck Gitken, senior vice president of marketing for the Smithfield, Va.-based company. “The brand enters the new year with the No. 1 market share in the smoked-meats category and the launch of its new Ready, Snack, Go! product.”

Like Smithfield, Eckrich will support its products with national advertising including continuing marketing partnerships with Randy Houser, Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) and Kirk Herbstreit. The company will also continue to support military families through Operation Homefront.

Nathan’s Famous will celebrate its 100th year in 2016, and will launch a comprehensive marketing program and a new line of Hot Dog Toppers. The brand will also work to expand its 50 percent reduced-fat beef franks.

Additionally, as a company, Smithfield Foods will mark its fifth season as the primary sponsor of Richard Petty Motorsports #43 NASCAR team and its eighth year of Helping Hungry Homes, a Smithfield Foods initiative focused on alleviating hunger across the country.

 Sugardale Foods 

Sugardale Foods has nearly 100 years of history and heritage as a provider of smoked and processed meats. The company’s commitment to quality has enabled Sugardale to grow from a regional provider to a nationwide supplier of bacon, ham, hot dogs, dry sausage, deli and luncheon meats and other specialty meat products, say company officials. 

Sugardale services customers in the retail, food service and export industries, including major grocery chains and well-known restaurants and food service operators. “As one of the largest private companies in the industry, our expertise, quality manufacturing and innovative product and service offerings rank Sugardale as one of the leaders in the category,” says Mark Slaughter, vice president of sales for the Massillon, Ohio-based company.   

At this year’s AMC Tasting Reception, Sugardale invites attendees to stop by its booth to taste its Classic Semi-Boneless Ham with an old-fashioned artisan appeal and its Sugardale Pepperoni featured in an antipasto skewer. In addition, Sugardale will have a variety of meat products on display from other product categories, including hot dogs, bacon and lunchmeats.

 Tyson Fresh Meats 

Tyson Fresh Meats will unveil its Open Prairie Natural Pork brand, which aims to meet the growing consumer demand for naturally raised pork. Open Prairie Natural Pork delivers high-quality natural pork from pigs that are never given antibiotics or added hormones and raised on a 100 percent vegetarian diet by farmers who share a commitment to a healthy environment, say company officials, who add that the products do not have any artificial ingredients.

“Open Prairie Natural Pork products come with the Tyson assurance for consistent supply of quality product at competitive pricing,” says Kent Harrison, vice president of marketing and premium programs at the Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based company 

Tyson Fresh Meats will also be sampling products from its Tyson Crafted Creations line of pre-seasoned and pre-marinated fresh beef, pork and chicken items. Tyson Crafted Creations are made with high-quality cuts of meat and flavors that complement the specific muscles that are used, Harrison adds. The products are available for retail distribution nationwide.

 Volk Enterprises  

For more than 50 years, Volk Enterprises has offered a diverse, high-quality product line that includes temperature indicating devices like the Pop Up Disposable Cooking Thermometer and Cook’d Right Sensor. 

Volk’s Pop Up Disposable Cooking Thermometer has an accuracy range of plus or minus two degrees Fahrenheit, say officials for the Alpharetta, Ga.-based company. It is available in a wide range of temperatures to fit multiple products and applications. 

 Volk’s Cook’d Right Sensor provides a quick and accurate way to determine when meat has reached its optimum level of doneness. Once meat reaches the correct doneness temperature, the color change on the tip of the Cook’d Right Sensor indicates the meat is done. 

Volk’s devices can be used as an effective way to truss poultry and are a great substitution for the traditional butcher twine and/or netting that is often used to tie roasts, says Ed Gustafson, president. “The increased elasticity provides better stretch for easier use while proving superior holding power during the cooking process,” says Gustafson.     

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