It is time for independent processors to step forward and take a well-deserved bow. During the last few months, our industry has struggled to keep up with the consumer demand for meat and poultry products and has met those difficulties head-on. Seeing processors work together to help each other navigate these challenging times has been inspiring to witness. The amount of time and effort put forth by everyone in the industry is commendable.

I am amazed at how well small processors took the ever-changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as other officials, and adapted them to work in each of their facilities. While many larger plants had to slow down their output or close altogether due to COVID-19 infections among their staff, the small independent processors stood in the gap by continuing to provide their local communities with quality products and services. They have also done a great job of mitigating the risk to their employees. After speaking with many AAMP members from around the country, I know the amount of hard work and creative thinking it took to keep up with the consumer demand.

Many small processors are second, third, or fourth-generation family businesses that have survived over the years during changing times because of their ability to adapt their business to meet the latest trends or challenges. AAMP members have experienced growing business opportunities over the last five years due to the local food movement, as well as the farm-to-table trend. This trend has pushed a lot of consumers to seek out and purchase their meat and poultry products from local butcher shops. Larger processors do a great job of meeting the needs of a sizable portion of consumers; however, the small processor has seen more and more people looking for education on where their food comes from, as well as that local and personal customer service touch. This trend has been excellent for business.

The business challenges created by COVID-19 are no different. Many small processors have experienced a substantial rise in new customers as a result of the supply and demand effects on large retailers. Most processors have gone from being busy to now having more business some days than they can handle. As long as processors continue doing an exceptional job of giving these new customers quality products and services, I don’t anticipate much of a drop off anytime soon.

Again, I want to thank all of those who have represented our industry well these last few months. The unique way that small independent processors have adapted their businesses to not only survive but to excel during this time is inspiring. Our members are each uniquely different but bound together in the common goal: providing quality products and services to their local communities. As our AAMP motto states, “Independently Proud, Collectively Strong.”  IP