Where the Processors Roam

The American Association of Meat Processors 66th annual convention and suppliers exhibition is coming to Buffalo this July.
A herd of meat industry professionals will be descending upon Buffalo, NY, this summer, in time to attend the 66th annual American Convention of Meat Processors & Suppliers Exhibition. The exhibition, taking place at the Buffalo Convention Center from July 28 to 30, is a gathering designed by small plant operators for small plant operators, and it is sponsored by the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP).
Operators of mid-sized and smaller firms in the meat, poultry, and food business will be coming from across the United States and Canada. Packers, processors, wholesalers, HRI, retailers, caterers, deli operators, home food service dealers, and catalog marketers are expected to attend.
The event will include more than 120 industry supplier companies that will be exhibiting a wide variety of products and services, including equipment, seasonings, ingredients, packaging, saws, refrigeration, and more.
Tours and tips
Along with the exhibit hall, attendees will be able to sit in on the many educational sessions taking place during the convention. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns has been invited to speak about the issues that are currently affecting the meat industry. Topics include the U.S./Canadian border closure, BSE, the “downer” issue, and the survival of small meat establishments.
There will also be several pre-convention plant tours of local companies, including Tyson Deli Inc., F. Wardynski & Sons Inc., a processor of hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats, and Battistoni’s, an Italian dried sausage producer.
Other sessions have been planned by a committee of meat industry participants and will offer practical information, manufacturing solutions, and business enhancement ideas. The focus is on small and mid-sized operations, and will include information on catering, platter design, pâté’s, and more. Among the sessions are:
• Tricks of the Trade — Speaker: Gary Crane, Ralph’s Packing Co., Perkins, OK. Veteran processors share their little secrets on how to save time, cut expenses, and profit from simple ideas. Attendees who bring their own ideas may walk away with a $100 prize.
• Unit Pricing… or Price per Pound? — Speaker: Ken Cherry, American Frozen Foods, Stratford, CT. With the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommending 4- to 5-ounce portions of meat per serving, should the meat industry be marketing cost per portion? Cherry will talk about this concept in a roundtable discussion format.
• Family Business… Taking the Right Way! — Speaker: Doug Clemens, Hatfield Quality Meats, Hatfield, PA. Clemens will show, through a look at his company’s history, how change is inevitable. It was present when the family business started in 1895 and is present today, but change has not affected the Clemens’ family values of integrity, ethics, and stewardship.
• Value-Added Game Processing — Speakers: John Hamm, Wisconsin River Brands Inc., Mauston, WI, and Greg Endres, Greg’s Meat Processing, Hampton, MN. Game Processing doesn’t just mean venison steaks. It could also include buffalo, elk, bear, or antelope. The two speakers will discuss how they found these other products, and how they have succeeded in broadening their customer base, with tips on how they are selling, statistical information on who’s buying the meats, and how they were able to target market their communities.
• Empower Your Way to Success — Speaker: Joel Weintraub, Humor for the Health of It, Lafayette, PA. Supercharge your business by learning effective techniques for improving sleep habits and skills for reducing stress and improving time management. Weintraub will teach innovative ways to harness the power of your team by improving customer service and learning how to turn mistakes into opportunities.
Several video product demos and plant tours are also planned. Four meat processors will demonstrate how they make Andouille sausage, Polish sausage with cheese, skinless snack sticks, and summer sausage. Two arm-chair plant tours will take attendees through the processing facilities of Palmyra Bologna Co., Palmyra, PA, and Lazy Gate Farms, Randolph, NY. Palmyra uses outdoor, traditional smokehouses to produce its products, and Lazy Gate will showcase its process of slaughtering emus, roasting pigs, and preparing them for the spit.
Social functions
Along with the educational sessions and the exhibit hall, the AAMP Convention also promises plenty of opportunities to network and sight-see. Scott Cunningham, AAMP president, will host the President’s Reception on July 27 in the Buffalo Convention Center. All attendees are invited to meet their colleagues over an evening of food and drinks.
The association is also throwing a tailgating party on July 29 at Dunn Tire Park, home of the minor-league baseball team Buffalo Bisons. In this case, though, it’s the AAMP members who will have a chance to play ball. A trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario, is also planned for AAMP spouses and children.
The closing banquet, on July 30, will have the theme of “Celebrate Good Friends in the City of Good Neighbors.” The banquet will feature guest speaker Astronaut Scott Altman, an awards presentation, and numerous prize giveaways.
The cured meat championships
The AAMP Convention will also play host to the annual American Cured Meat Championships. This year’s contest is sponsored by Buffalo-based Vista International Packaging Inc. The event, which started in 1949 as a ham contest, has greatly expanded over the years. Now, the competition covers hams, bacon, jerky, and sausages, with more than 25 different classes. Recent category additions include an Andouille class and a braunschweiger class. This year, the regional class for Buffalo is a Polish kielbasa.
Meat processors who are members of the AAMP, produce their own products, and are registered for the convention are able to enter the ACMC. The entries will be judged by meat scientists from several universities and specialists in the meat industry. Along with the chance of winning, the evaluation also provides information for product enhancement that could result in greater sales and business opportunities. NP
For more information about the AAMP Convention, call (717) 367-1168; fax (717) 367-9096, e-mail info@aamp.com, or visit www.aamp.com