Welcome to the first edition of a brand new newsletter from Independent Processor. Every month, Independent Processor’s Prime Cuts will be delivering exclusive stories, editorials and expanded interviews from some of the people and companies featured in our print magazine. We hope that you like what we have to offer and will help to spread the word on this new venture.

My journalism career started roughly at the time that the Internet started to take off. In my first job, I was handed the task of updating our magazine’s website — probably because I was the lowest person on the totem pole. This predated the rise of content management systems and the like, so every page had to be built from an HTML template and added manually. The website was a copy of the magazine, with no new content, and certainly no newsletters. Even later on, as we started to pay attention to online traffic, I never thought that we’d end up writing exclusive information to the online audience.

Needless to say, my career has changed pretty radically since I started off. That’s the way of journalism, though. We have to keep track of all the ways that our readers want to interact with us, and we must adapt. It’s not too far removed from the meat and poultry processing industry, really. The consumer demands from 10 or even five years ago have changed, and the successful business is the one that keeps up with those changes.

Consumer demands are growing more and more sophisticated. At one point, putting “natural” on a label was good enough to satisfy the shopper looking for a healthier option. Now, people realize that “natural” doesn’t really mean anything, and they want something specific like “cage-free,” “grass fed,” “organic” or “raised with antibiotics.” “Asian food” used to be a catch-all term to describe any kind of Japanese, Chinese, Thai or Filipino cuisine. Now, consumers are becoming aware of the differences in these different cultures and are looking for specific spices and proteins. (We’ll discuss this further in the February issue of Independent Processor.)

Not everything has to change for the sake of change, of course. Every processor has a time-honored recipe or two, and consumers would revolt if it changed — just look up “New Coke” if you’re not old enough to remember that particular fiasco. It is worth looking at your operation with a critical eye, however, and be ready to make a chance if it’s best for your business.

To that end, if you have any suggestions for this newsletter, or if you want to talk about the changes you’ve made to your business, feel free to get in touch with me at gazdziaks@bnpmedia.com. Thanks for reading as always, and I hope you enjoy IP’s Prime Cuts every month.

To have articles like this delivered to your inbox every month, please subscribe to Independent Processor’s Prime Cuts newsletter.