To enhance their opportunity for success, every small and midsize meat processor should have a list of short-term (12 months or less) and long-term (1 year or longer) goals. The first step in setting goals is to decide when you are going to do it. Many processors like to set/review their goals around January 1 each year. If that is not a good time for you, pick some other time during the year. The important thing is to set a time for your annual goal review and STICK TO IT. Your goals should be written down. Most small meat processors like to review their progress toward their goals (particularly short term goals) 2-3 times a year. Document your reviews and adjust your goals as needed. If you say you don’t have time to set and review goals you are essentially saying you don’t have time to be more successful and more profitable.

Following are some of the areas in which you may want to set goals.


It is critical that you know what it costs to produce your products. You should consider more than just meat, ingredients and packaging costs. You should also consider things such as labor, variable overhead costs (utilities, etc.) and fixed overhead costs. If you do not know your “true” product cost it is impossible for you to determine your profit on a particular product.


It is important to periodically review your product list. You may want to discontinue products that are low volume and low profit and increase emphasis on highly profitable items. (To do this you have to know your “true” product cost.) As you add new products, don’t be afraid to discontinue low-volume/low-profit items.


Packaging must not only protect but also present the product. The packaging and label must make a positive impression. Don’t forget that you must “please the eyes first.” Think of the effort that chefs go through to attractively present their meals.


If you have an on-site retail area it should be clean, attractive and inviting. It should be attractively painted and have the plaques you have won in cured meat competitions attractively displayed.


Capital equipment purchases should help to increase efficiency and eliminate bottlenecks in production. Don’t buy something just to have a new piece of equipment.


Being an exceptional meat cutter or sausage maker does not necessarily make you a good manager. Plant management should also be trained in topics such as; communication, 
personality types and conflict resolution.


It is critical that employees be trained in both meat science and food safety. Employees should receive annual training in sanitation, food safety and HACCP. Document your training sessions. Many problems are the result of employees either not understanding what they are supposed to do or the implications if they do something wrong. Employee training is one of the “Secrets of Success.”


It is critical that small and midsize meat processors belong to and participate in their local (state or regional) meat industry association and AAMP (American Association of Meat Processors). By belonging to and participating in meat industry trade associations small and midsize meat processors get to know other processors, learn about food safety and processing procedures and learn about new industry regulations and how to comply with them. Another “Secret of Success” is to have a strong network of fellow meat processors.


A great way to learn more about the small and midsize meat industry is to subscribe to and read meat industry publications such as Independent Processor. Share it with your employees.

Typically small and midsize meat processors work very hard and stay very busy. For these reasons it is essential to set goals. Goals help you work smarter rather than harder.

Remember: You cannot achieve a goal that you do not have.