On June 14, meat scientists across the country will begin gathering in Lincoln, Neb., for the American Meat Science Association’s (AMSA) 68th Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC). This year’s RMC is co-hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and ConAgra Foods. The event has grown considerably since the first RMC held in 1948, which saw 46 attendees, to the more than 800 that participate in RMC today. These individuals represent all facets of the meat industry from academia, government and industry as well as undergraduate and graduate students.

“The AMSA’s 68th RMC is unique in that it has all the education and technical programming that you’d want, along with the social environment to let you catch up with old friends and colleagues,” says Brad Morgan, Ph.D., AMSA president and senior director of protein at Performance Food Group.

Technical Program:  RMC attendees will not want to miss the opening keynote presentation as we explore “How to market to people not like you” with Kelly McDonald from McDonald Marketing. Kelly, a marketing and advertising expert, is considered one of the nation’s top experts in multicultural marketing and consumer trends. This is going to be a high-energy session that will engage attendees, and help them better understand the consumers they are trying to reach and how to craft the information they are trying to share. The opening keynote will be followed by concurrent sessions exploring the implication of growing social interest in how meat is produced, an in-depth review of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s beef flavor research and a detailed session on genomics in the food animal industries. 

Upon completion of the morning sessions, attendees will have a chance to view some of the cutting-edge research taking place in the meat science community. Abstracts presented at the AMSA 68th RMC will cover a variety of topics including animal welfare, muscle biology, meat safety and quality, meat processing, ingredient technology and packaging. After the poster session concludes, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from leading experts in the industry on topics including: processed meats — a processor’s challenges in addressing new market and consumer demands; pork quality — a focus on the science, the consumer and the future; and antibiotic resistance – understanding the issues facing beef, poultry and pork. 

Tuesday morning attendees will head over to the University of Nebraska campus for a full day of reciprocation sessions covering topics designed to encourage interaction and a healthy exchange of ideas between attendees and presenters. Ronnie Green, vice chancellor for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will open Wednesday morning by leading attendees in a discussion on “Growing a healthy future and understanding the perspectives of the livestock and meat industries.” A timely discussion on diet and health and the role of meat in the diet will wrap up the conference. Author Nina Teicholz will engage attendees with the discussion of “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.”

“The RMC technical program is vital to the success of RMC and our committee spends numerous months and hours pulling together a strong, relevant and diverse program so that everyone that comes to RMC feels like there is something for them,” says Dean Pringle, Ph.D., RMC chairman and professor at the University of Georgia.

Networking:From catching up with old friends to connecting with other meat science professionals, RMC is great networking opportunity. “RMC is a gathering of my extended meat science family, of individuals that have really shaped my life and helped me get to where I am today. I look forward each year to coming to this meeting and getting to interact with the people that come to this meeting both on a personal and technical level,” says John Scanga, Ph.D., AMSA Board and senior technical consultant with Elanco Animal Health. 

This year the University of Nebraska and ConAgra Foods have been working extremely hard to guarantee an amazing RMC with outstanding food and endless opportunities for attendees to interact with each other and speakers. A few can’t-miss moments: the welcome reception featuring cuisine from Misty’s, a long-standing local restaurant; and the family picnic focused on fun, fellowship and competition, including the annual softball tournament. Wrapping up the social events will be the AMSA RMC Awards banquet, bringing attendees together to recognize meat science professionals for their outstanding contributions in research, education, extension and industry outreach.

Student activities: Over the past several years RMC attendance continues to grow, and with that the number of students that attend RMC has surpassed expectations. These students are passionate, engaged and excited about the meat industry and what the future holds for them and their colleagues. As the student numbers rise, so does their participation in the many events that take place at the annual RMC, including the undergraduate quiz bowl competition, career and networking fair, poster presentation sessions, mentor program, as well as the product development competitions. Countless hours are devoted to planning, training and preparing for the events, but there is one these students cannot plan for in advance — the Iron Chef competition, in which their culinary knowledge will be put to the test.

Students will head to ConAgra Foods headquarters in Omaha, Neb., for the day to participate in the 2015 Iron Chef Competition. This unique and exciting opportunity allows them to showcase their creative culinary and product development skills. Students will have access to the incredible processing equipment at ConAgra’s state-of-the-art test kitchen. Working alongside premier chefs and food scientists, students will have the chance to express their creativity using various protein sources, a pantry full of ingredients and a secret ingredient. In addition to the Iron Chef competition, participants will attend food-processing workshops across the ConAgra headquarters and tour the company’s first-class facilities Saturday. These workshops will be focused on giving students a hands-on look into some real-world product development and allow students the opportunity to learn from processing and culinary experts.

“The students of AMSA make up half of our membership and they do a phenomenal job each year working closely with the RMC host and planning committees to create some unique events that encourage interaction among students and professionals, and looking at the lineup for 2015 this year will be exciting and rewarding,” Morgan says.

The AMSA’s 68th RMC has something unique for each attendee, whether it is networking with peers, enjoying the traditional social events or listening to the latest cutting-edge research from industry experts, you are sure to find it in Lincoln this summer. The faculty, staff and students at the University of Nebraska and ConAgra Foods as well as the AMSA RMC planning committee are working hard to make the 68th RMC a memorable and rewarding experience for all the attendees. We look forward to seeing you June 14-17 in Lincoln.

For more information regarding the AMSA 68th RMC please visit www.meatscience.org/rmc.