In recent months and years we all have seen the devastation a tsunami wave can have on an island.

April 13-16 I had the opportunity to attend the American Meat Institute Convention and Exposition held at McCormick Place in Chicago. Chicago is a great place to visit. The food is exceptional and there are many exciting things to see and do. I particularly enjoy visiting Chicago when it includes the opportunity to visit a trade show featuring all the latest and greatest in the meat industry. A day filled with conversation about meat and meat processing is always a good day.

As I walked around the exhibit floor at the AMI Convention and Exposition, I was overwhelmed by all the technology, supplies and information available to the meat industry. It was almost like a tsunami wave of resources coming at meat plants.

Upon reflection, I realized that today meat plants have three tsunami waves coming at them all at the same time; 1. new technologies; 2. regulatory requirements; and 3.customer expectations. How is a meat plant to survive three tsunamis at the same time? Certainly not by being an island.

Many plants, particularly smaller plants, tend to be involved only in their local area and don’t think regionally or nationally. They operate as an island in the great sea of the meat industry. When a plant operates as an island it is very difficult to keep up with the latest technologies and know which technologies you should incorporate in your business. It is equally difficult to know how to deal with regulatory issues such as HACCP, FSAs and Validation and Verification. It can also be very difficult to know how to deal with customer’s expectations relative to food safety, food defense and nutrition. Some plants are also faced with addressing customer’s requirements relating to GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative).

Fortunately meat plants don’t have to exist as islands. There are excellent state, regional and national meat industry trade associations that meat processors can belong to. Active participation in trade associations allows meat processors to develop a network of peers with which they can exchange ideas and discuss concerns.

The American Association of Meat Processors(AAMP) membership consists primarily of medium and small size plants. Many of the state and regional associations are affiliated with AAMP on a national level. AAMP maintains an excellent website with a members only section that contains excellent resources including Model HACCP Plans and information on Single Ingredient Nutritional Labeling. I feel access to the members only section is worth more than the $175.00 annual supplier dues. On June 16-18, 2011, AAMP will hold a Convention and Supplier’s Exhibition in Reno, Nev.

The North American Meat Processors Association(NAMP) membership is primarily small to medium size processors. NAMP is noted for publication of The Meat Buyer’s Guide. Each year NAMP sponsors several excellent programs.

Membership in the American Meat Institute(AMI) is primarily medium to large plants. It offers many excellent services and programs to their members and hosts an Annual Convention and Exposition.

The National Meat Association(NMA) hosts the biennial MEATXPO suppliers’ exposition, along with many other seminars and conventions. Its membership consists mainly of small and medium plants.

Many successful meat processors have discovered that association membership contributes significantly to their success. Don’t be an island. Belong to and participate in meat industry trade associations.

Remember: If you rest, you rust.
American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP)

Elizabethtown, PA –
American Meat Institute (AMI)

Washington, D.C. –
North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP)

Reston, VA –

National Meat Association (NMA)

   Oakland, Calif. -–