I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of good partnerships and the benefits that partnerships bring to those involved. I would define a great partnership as one in which both parties have and are willing to share valuable information with each other that can be used for the benefit of others, mainly the partners members.

AAMP has had a number of industry partners here in the U.S. that it works very closely with on matters of importance to our members, and this work serves to strengthen the meat industry here in America. AAMP has also begun to develop a strategic partnership outside of the U.S. in the last three years, which has begun to bring benefits to the small independent processor and open doors to more partnership possibilities. That partnership is with the German Butchers Association (DFV), the original founders of IFFA and the voice that represents and speaks for meat processing in Germany. IFFA is the world’s largest meat trade show, and it happens once every three years in Frankfurt. IFFA attracts about 1,000 vendors and over 70,000 visitors from over 140 countries.

I have just returned from Frankfurt and six days at the IFFA show, where AAMP members and I were involved in daily presentations and speaking engagements before a very diverse audience. We were there as guests of our German friends, who asked if we would share some of our knowledge in specific areas with their members and others who were attending the show. We were asked to do demonstrations of breaking down front and hind quarters of beef into traditional U.S. steak cuts and some of the more trendy cuts that are popular in the BBQ and restaurant scene here. U.S. steak and BBQ are very popular in Germany right now.

AAMP members were also asked to do presentations on the manufacturing of beef jerky and snack sticks. Both of these items are not traditionally made in Germany, and it is a wide-open market that German butchers would like to take advantage of. I was able to speak at an IFFA forum on Sunday, May 5 and present our association and its members, as well as their products, to the audience and share the great things that are happening in our U.S. It was a long but beneficial week at IFFA, as we had many opportunities to speak with people from all over the world and answer questions about our presentations and the products we make.

Our partnership with the German Butchers began in the fall of 2015 as we were looking for a way for our members to participate in the international sausage and ham competition sponsored by the DFV at the IFFA. It had become increasingly more difficult for AAMP members to get their products through customs in order to compete. A partnership was formed, and we brought a group of German judges to the U.S. in January of 2016 to evaluate our American products. From this, the partnership was born.

The German judges returned to the U.S. in January of this year to judge our products, and a number of AAMP members traveled to the IFFA this year to receive their awards. We had 75-100 people representing approximately 25-30 companies, as well as universities that were in Frankfurt, for the show and awards.

The partnership does not end there. A group of German butchers will be traveling to Mobile, Alabama for AAMP’s 80th convention this July and will be putting on a daylong workshop on sausage making and other subjects on Wednesday, July 24. This type of exchange of information serves both groups very well and is establishing relationships between AAMP members and their counterparts in Germany. AAMP is currently working with the German Butchers Association to develop an exchange program that will send young people from each group to spend time learning in each other’s shops on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. We have discovered in the time spent together that our friends in Germany face the same issues in their day-to-day struggles as we do here, and the opportunity to sit and talk about different ways to face those challenges is beneficial for all of us.

The partnership we share with the DFV has motivated others to approach AAMP and ask how they can have the same type of working partnership with us. We will look into these opportunities and see if we can make them work to benefit the industry worldwide. Having strong partnerships that work together in sharing information, as well as working to tell the great story of our industry and the products we make, will make our industry stronger and give us a louder voice worldwide.