A ‘Grand’ time

The American Association of Meat Processors’ annual convention and trade show turns 65 this year.
The 2004 American Convention of Meat Processors comes to Grand Rapids, MI, this year for the 65th anniversary of its annual education meeting and suppliers’ exhibition. The annual gathering for small and mid-sized meat, poultry, and prepared food items’ business operators will be held July 15 to 18 at the DeVos Place, SMG Grand Center, which is adjacent to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.
Similar to previous conventions this year’s show features an extensive educational program, creative social functions, and the always-popular American Cured Meats Championships (ACMC).
Educational sessions
The convention, sponsored by the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP), features a comprehensive educational program, highlighted by an overview of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s beef value-cuts program and in-depth sessions on Listeria and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The educational session gets underway before the convention actually begins with a pre-convention workshop that will be held at the Michigan State University Meat Laboratory and conducted by Alden Booren, Ph.D., Michigan State University; Joe Cordray, Ph.D., Iowa State University; Willy Nunez, Iowa State University; Wes Osbum, Ph.D., Michigan State University; and Jeff Sindelar, Iowa State University.
The educational program on Thursday, July 15, features:
• Can YOU Survive Government Meat Inspection? — Barbara Masters, acting administrator, USDA/FSIS, discusses what’s coming down the road next in government inspection and how to deal with it.
• Creative Tax Planning – Keeping More of What You Earn! — CPAs Doug VanDerAa and Dan Pring from Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols, and Carter talk about tax and financial subjects that affect the meat industry, including ideas for taking advantage of the window of opportunity to distribute earnings at a 15-percent tax rate under the 2003 tax act.
• America’s Dumbest (Most Expensive) Plant Building Mistakes — Scott Cunningham, Cunningham Meats; David Sutton, Newhall Locker & Processing; and Ron Vallort, Ron Vallort & Associates, offer attendees a chance to learn about plant building mistakes from people who have already made them.
• Seducing the Sale by Design: First Impressions Count — Christopher Marshall, Christopher Marshall Design, helps attendees learn what design factors affect a customer’s buying decision and how to select the best creative resources for your needs including working with commercial artists and speaking the language.
The educational program on Friday, July 16, features:
• Armchair Plant Tours — Bill Perfect, Perfect’s Meat Market, and Greg and Jolene Heikens, Tripe T Specialty Meats, will talk about how they have taken their businesses in different directions and how they have successfully accomplished their goals.
• How the AAMP Web Site Can Help You Help Yourself! — Dave Clipper, CEI Design, shows what information is available at www.aamp.com and how important that information can be to your business.
• The Amazing Effects of Water Quality on Your Products — Rick Hull, WTI Inc., proves that without quality processing water, it doesn’t matter if your product features the best ingredients or the finest seasonings.
• Tricks of the Trade — Gary Crane, Ralph’s Packing Co., helps attendees translate the best ideas of others into cash in your pocket. Crane will share his secrets on how to save time, cut expenses, and profit from simple ideas.
• Value-Added Beef — Kari Underly, NCBA, and Bill Fields, Ajinomoto, lead an interactive presentation and preparation of beef value cuts from NCBA.
• Pricing 101 — Willy Nunez, Iowa State University, offers a primer on how you can determine the true cost of your product, your handling, your overhead, and whether you are in reality giving away your time and profit potential.
The educational program on Saturday, July 17, features:
• Listeria: Control, Formulation, Facility, and Sanitation — Bill Schwartz, NSF International, and Alden Booren, Michigan State University, will cover formulation for listeria categories 1, 2, and 3. From a consultant’s point of view, Schwartz will share information about facilities, handling practices, sanitation, and what is the right thing to do to minimize risk.
• BSE Animal ID and How to Cope With It All — Daniel Engeljohn, USDA/FSIS; Dennis Schaardt, Den’s Country Meats, and Jay Wenther, AAMP, comprise a panel of government and processing experts that will tell what to expect and how to deal with existing and coming requirements on the BSE or mad cow issue, plus what to expect with the new animal identification and tracking system.
Social functions
AAMP’s 65th anniversary convention isn’t all work and no play. Each day of the event features unique and exciting social functions. Thursday, July 15, is the Welcome Reception. “A lot is on tap for the evening: food, drink, and live music, on the grassy grounds of the Gerald Ford Museum. All this with a beautiful view of the Amway Grand Hotel and the Convention Center just across the river. You definitely won’t want to pass this evening up,” AAMP boasts of its reception.
Friday, July 16, is the Spouse Tour. This year’s spouse tour is being billed as “Escape to Saugatuck & Explore the Beaches of Lake Michigan.” The spouse tour begins with lunch at the Coral Gables Restaurant overlooking the harbor. Following lunch you can either shop or go dune-buggying. The tour will then continue on to the beaches of Lake Michigan in Grand Haven.
The final social function is the Grand Banquet on Saturday, July 17. “Some of AAMP’s finest meat processors will be slow cooking prime rib and pork loins on-site in their mobile cookers,” AAMP says. “Guarantee you good eatin’ with mouth watering hand-carved meat, cooked to perfection and a full buffet of side dishes.”
Between the social functions, educational programs, exhibit hall, and ACMC, three days doesn’t seem like enough time for the show! NPACMC
The ACMC is the highlight of the convention and is the only national event of its kind in North America. The competition has its roots in Chicago, when in 1949, small business meat processors gathered to enter their hams in the First Annual Ham Show. In that first competition there were 65 hams that were judged in four classes. This year there are hundreds of products that will compete in about 30 different classes.
The classes of entries this year include: andouille sausage, bacon (heavyweight,) bacon (lightweight,) barbecue pork ribs, braunschweiger, country bacon, country ham (smoked,) country ham (unsmoked,) dried beef, frankfurters/wieners (coarse ground,) frankfurters/wieners (emulsified,) ham (boneless,) ham (semi-boneless,) ham (sectioned and formed,) innovative beef product, innovative pork product, jerky (restructured,) jerky (whole muscle,) luncheon meat (large diameter,) meat snack stick, non-fermented semi-dried sausage, poultry sausage (cooked,) ring bologna (cooked,) small diameter smoked/cooked sausage, smoked turkey, specialty game meats, and summer sausage (cooked.)
ACMC’s reputation grows as a result of loyal processors who enter new and improved product(s) each year. Omaha, NE-based Frank Stoysich Meats has been entering products in the competition since 1979, when it was awarded the Grand Champion prize for their boneless ham and smoked turkey. Frank Stoysich Jr. is a third-generation owner of the company, and this year he looks forward to bringing about 10 different entries to ACMC.
Frank Jr., who has been involved with the company’s ACMC entries since the mid-1980s, says that the biggest change he has seen in the competition is that there are more products and higher quality across the board.
“The increased level of competition at the event is fantastic because it forces you to take a hard look at the products you are producing and entering,” says Frank Jr. “You are forced to make a better product for the show which leads you to making a better day-to-day product.”
Not only does the ACMC inspire processors to produce high quality products, but also an ACMC win can lead to marketing opportunities.
“After the show if we received any awards or plaques we contact our local paper, the World Herald, and they’ll run a press release for us,” Stoysich says. “And there are in-house marketing opportunities as well. At the ACMC in Nashville, our andouille, which we had only been producing for six months, was awarded Grand Champion. We put that on display in our case back in Omaha and we also put up beads and played on the andouille/Mardi Gras theme. We put up recipes for red beans and rice, and also jambalaya — all recipes that use our andouille. It worked out really well for us.”