The American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) 2021 American Convention of Meat Processors and Suppliers’ Exhibition is expected to be one of the first major post-pandemic annual meetings for the meat industry this July in Oklahoma City, Okla.

AAMP Executive Director Chris Young believes the industry is ready to get back to in-person events and that its members are eager to lead the way. “For industries like ours, meat processors –­– essential workers, who continued to do their work in person throughout the pandemic –– in-person is almost a given. They understood and adapted to the digital adjustments made but welcome a return to in-person.” 

Young added, “A few of our state affiliate associations have already successfully returned to in-person events this year. The Kansas Association of Meat Processors (KAMP) and Montana Meat Processors Association (MMPA) both held in-person events at the end of April. The last year has shown that live gatherings are a critical element, and there’s still a need for that personal touch.”

AAMP did not hold its annual convention last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the first time in 75 years the event was canceled. The last time it was canceled was in 1945 due to the ending of World War II.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to safely gather our association members and industry leaders,” said AAMP President Rick Reams. “We have a tremendous lineup of speakers who are business leaders and will address the many opportunities and challenges affecting the industry. We are also excited to host a variety of social and networking events.”

The 2021 convention is set for July 15-17 at the brand-new Omni Oklahoma City Hotel and the new state-of-the-art $288 million convention center. The convention center is said to be the single largest construction project in the city’s history. Most of the meeting rooms and open space overlook Scissortail Park. A streetcar is also available to transport visitors to restaurants and nightlife.

“We are anticipating a really solid turnout,” said AAMP Convention Manager Niki Cloud. “To date, 90 processor plants from around the country are registered to attend, as well as 108 exhibitors. Whether you are a first-time participant or if this is your 40th convention, you will not want to miss it.”

Young said the association’s ability to host the in-person meeting in the post-pandemic era is a result of hard work by staff and committee leadership, who did a “spectacular” job of planning and preparing for multiple contingencies. 

“The health and safety of our attendees is our absolute priority," said Young. “We are committed to hosting a safe event for all those who wish to join. COVID-19 protocols at the convention center and Omni are still to-be-determined as we continue to monitor the mandates issued by Oklahoma City and our host facilities.” 

Oklahoma City’s mask mandate expired April 30, however, individual businesses can still require masks, if desired. AAMP will provide masks to attendees and hand sanitizing stations will also be available throughout both facilities. 

As of May 4, Gov. Kevin Stitt withdrew Oklahoma’s COVID-19 state of emergency after citing the state’s recent low numbers.