For the past several years, small meat processors have had to react to world events that were greatly beyond their control. Nobody could have predicted that a global pandemic would shut down businesses, or that the temporary shutdown of large packing plants would throw the supply chain into chaos. Or that the fallout of the COVID pandemic would include the Great Resignation, when a sizable chunk of the workforce decided to look for new jobs. Or even that Russia would invade Ukraine and cause gas prices to skyrocket.

Not only do these global events force business owners and consumers to alter their habits, but it also beats you down, mentally. It seems like every time one crisis starts to resolve itself, another one emerges. I’d make a joke about alien invasion coming next, but that feels too much like inviting catastrophe at this point. But here’s the thing. Many small processors are ahead of where they were just a couple of years ago. They navigated pandemics, they grew their audiences, they’ve made plans to expand and grow. I have no doubt that if aliens did land tomorrow, meat markets would discover their favorite flavor of summer sausage by next week.

All we really can control are the things within our grasp. We can think negatively and get overwhelmed by problems and anxiety, or we can think positively and make the best of the situation. The business leaders who pivoted quickly to market changes during COVID probably did very well. The ones who worked to maintain good employee relations were more insulated against resignations. Those companies who quickly found alternate supply chains weren’t at the mercy of inconsistent raw materials supplies.

Keep an eye out for the next challenge to come down the pike, but don’t be in fear of it. That next challenge could turn into a new opportunity, and sometimes, a new opportunity is just what we need.

Sam Gazdziak