INSIGHT: NH Foods Australia export manager Andrew McDonald at the Rural Press Club in Brisbane.
INSIGHT: NH Foods Australia export manager Andrew McDonald at the Rural Press Club in Brisbane. Andrea Davy

Better branding will carve out niche market

WHEN it comes to beef, branding matters.

That was the message from NH Foods Australia export manager Andrew McDonald when addressing the Rural Press Club luncheon in Brisbane.

NH Foods is a major player in the beef industry, owning Oakey Beef Exports, Wingham Beef Exports and Thomas Borthwick and Sons at Mackay as well as the 50,000-head Whyalla Beef feedlot at Texas.

Using the latest data on beef consumption trends, Mr McDonald explained how our biggest beef supply competitors - including the US - were becoming larger but the global appetite for protein was also on the rise.

He said Australia had true potential to "carve out our own niches” in rising markets.

Mr McDonald was quick to quash rumours that Americans were eating less meat.

He said their consumption per capita was sitting at about 100kg of meat per person per year.

"It's a staggering amount of product,” he said.

"This is even on the back of Meatless Monday campaigns, on the back of growing publicity around vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, and publicity about eating less meat for health reasons - beef and protein consumption is growing massively.”

He said as markets expanded, branding, traceability and education were key elements that helped products become a consumer's first choice.

Citing the Power of Meat 2018 report, he said buyers identified with products that "made claims”.

"Claims like organic, hormone free and antibiotic free. Then there is natural, grass-fed and free range - what do those three things mean? Consumers generally don't know either.

"If you ask an American consumer who buys a tray of beef 'do you want grass-fed?', they will say, 'don't all cows eat grass?'

"So a lot of our potential growth rate is in explaining these things. Being open about it and explaining it to the consumer will drive more sales.”

Better and more thoughtful branding was also essential.

"We see in retail shelves a blank packet with a price tag on it,” he said.

"We have seen significant shifts away from that to a branded packaged product.

"Branded products are sold at a premium compared to general products.”

Mr McDonald said it was important to help educate consumers as we neared a generational change - statistics indicate millennials need help in the kitchen.

"83% of consumers buy a limited range of products each week. If you look around the room, the shopper of the household probably goes and buys a tray of mince, a tray of chicken breasts and maybe a Sunday roast.

"And each week they buy the same thing.

"Only 17% are experimental and buy a range of cuts of meat.”

Down the track, technology could help "bring back the butcher” to help drive sales, he said.

Mr McDonald made note of technology in China which allowed consumers to scan a product in store where a video played, giving them information about where the meat was produced and also provided some tips on how to cook it.

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