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Gather, Interpret, Act: Using Market Data to Influence Innovation

January 26, 2016

Consumer comparing meat packaging in a retailer. The most successful leaders are those who meet adversity with strategic solutions.

Today’s volatile, ever-changing protein industry requires processors to be nimble and make modifications based on what is happening in the marketplace. Learning how to gather, interpret and act on industry data creates increased opportunities for processors to evolve and innovate.

Forecasting Environmental Challenges

As with any other business, profitability provides processors with the necessary fuel to drive advancements. Understanding the industry climate and how it impacts the bottom line makes it easier to navigate challenging economic conditions.

In recent years, environmental issues including drought and disease have threatened to destroy the meat and poultry processing industry. Product scarcity drove prices up, making processors vulnerable to devastating financial losses.

However, this same data indicates that in spite of increasing costs, consumers are still willing to purchase proteins – just in smaller portions and lesser grades. In response to this information, savvy processors are reducing product size to satisfy consumer preferences while maintaining prices that do not negatively impact profit margins.

Using Data to Drive Food Packaging Innovations

Making production changes, like modifying product portion size, often requires processors to scale their operations and evaluate existing methods. While processors have been historically reluctant to accept technological changes, market research suggests that in order to remain profitable processors must adopt new packaging techniques and advancements.

Letting industry data to guide them, protein processors may consider implementing continuous food packaging technology, which allows them to better control the packaging size and significantly reduce waste and labor costs.

Consumer-Driven Advancements 

Many processors take the wrong approach by focusing on what competitors are doing instead of considering consumer wants.

For example, market data shows that consumers are willing to pay 10-15 percent more for products with distinctive flavors because it eliminates a step for them, therefore increasing the product’s value and quality. Protein processors who are mindful of changing consumer tastes may capitalize on this trend by infusing their products with seasoning and flavor.

Seasoning technology is a newer packaging approach that allows processors to produce small batches for a variety of tastes. This method of efficiently incorporating new flavor profiles is a simple product upgrade that helps boost perceived premium quality among consumers and enables retailers to receive top dollar for products in stores.

Furthermore, understanding the way that consumers make purchases should influence how processors go to market.

For example, research indicates that millennials should be a key target for food processors because they are starting families and becoming prime customers. To reach this new consumer, processors should consider developing a digital presence to connect with the new shopper and working closely with retailers to capture and analyze shopper data. Mining this type of data can help processors and retailers more appropriately stock shelves and adjust production to satisfy consumer preferences.

Noting challenges and applying market data to help identify opportunities gives protein processors the tools to anticipate industry trends and inform their business decisions.


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