By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, FMI
The farm-to-fork path has taken some twists and turns over the past few years. One part of the route is a rougher haul, marked by often simultaneous crises. Another part of the path is being cleared to provide a better view from production to the point of sale.
All roads lead to the consumer, though, and keeping that in mind, those throughout the meat supply chain have been working to address challenges and move forward. From a sheer supply standpoint, many processors have invested in automated systems and expanded their capacity to meet demand, especially following a year in which dollar sales increased but volume couldn’t keep pace.
Retailers are also leveraging technologies to optimize ordering and have added more products from different suppliers to diversify their offerings. Meanwhile, producers are doing their best to keep up with cattle inventory while dealing with issues like higher feed costs and drought. Increasingly, those within the meat supply chain are working together to align supply and demand to the best of their abilities.
In this same volatile environment, we know that consumers want – and have come to expect – transparency in meat. Their desire to connect with their food and those who produce it stems from an overall food savviness as well as a stronger interest in sustainability and responsibility. The advent of technologies that provide more actionable data and greater traceability enables retailers and their partners in the supply chain to give customers the meat products – and the information – they crave.
It seems to me, the combination of supply chain issues, inflation, consumers eating more meals at home, shoppers’ affordability concerns, and the ever-increasing labor challenges, sets up an interesting upcoming year in the meat industry. How will suppliers and food retailers deal with these challenges? Most importantly, how will consumers deal with these challenges?
Get more insights on supply chain transparency and overcoming volatility in meat retail during educational sessions at the upcoming Annual Meat Conference, March 6-8 in Dallas.