The stockman sits resting after a hard day on the range or in the feedlot, and wonders about the future. He remembers the time after World War I, when the consumer, driven from his dietary habits, was weaned away from meat. He knows livestock production, but it is a far cry from his ranch to the consumer.
He may peek over his wife’s shoulder as she reads her favorite woman’s magazine, and he sees a full-color ad of a beef roast, a plate of ham, or an eye-filling lamb chop. His mouth watering, he sees his livestock brought to the consumer’s eye. He reads statistics on the nutritive qualities of meats. And he notes that the ad is signed, The American Meat Institute. The promotion of his product is in expert hands.
The return to normal peacetime pursuits will bring many problems, some of which may have serious repercussions in the meat and livestock industry. Unemployment and decreasing pay checks, if they come, will have an effect on the demand for meat and is of great importance to the livestock industry because lower incomes decrease the demand for meat.
The statistical “meat” of the past year, which hasn’t been very successful in satisfying the desire for steaks, may soon give way to good red meat. Anyway, the ending of the war and demobilization of troops, the cancelling of set-aside orders and lend-lease, are all indications that in the predictable future the supply of meat once again will largely be available to the civilian population.
The cattle population of the country is near an all-time high; the hog population is on the increase over the big drop of last year and is still larger than pre-war, all of which indicates that at least for the next two years there is the raw material for a high per capita consumption of meat.
To see that demand for meat remains high in the coming years is the primary function of the meat educational program of American Meat Institute. The welfare of the meat-packing industry depends on the place meat occupies in the diet of the nation, just as does the welfare of the livestock producer, the feeder and the retailer of meat.
Government authorities have predicted that civilians would have eaten 160 to 170 lbs. of meat per person this year had it been obtainable. Only once in the last 45 years has per capita consumption been that high, and that was in 1908. The pattern has steadily gone downward since then, with the exception of an increase during part of the war period.
Members of our armed forces have been eating meat at the rate of 315 lbs. per individual. Several million of them will be back in normal pursuits in the next year. Will they demand more meat than the 130 lbs. or so per capita they consumed in prewar days?
There are many questions, but what about the answers? The meat-packing industry does not have the answers, but it is prepared to do everything in its power to see that meat maintains a high place in the daily diet.
Fortunately, the industry has only limited problems of reconversion and is already shifting more of its supplies into civilian channels. Many wartime controls are still in effect; military needs will continue to be met, but the problems in the future months will gradually fall in the line of the peacetime pattern.
The American Meat Institute’s meat educational program to maintain and encourage the consumption of meat will be a vigorous continuation of its prewar and wartime program. The basic policy of that program is “to sell meat in general from a nutritional standpoint and to illustrate this basic story of meat with specific products at times of the year when they are available in volume and offer the greatest value to the consumer.”
Many tools are used to carry out this policy. Many types of advertising play the leading role in addition to publicity, merchandising, research, consumer education, visual education, producer relations and personal contacts.
In coming months the nation will be blanketed through the pages of the most widely read magazines with advertisements designed to sell meat and at the same time to tell its nutritional story. Advertisements will appear regularly in eight weekly and monthly magazines with a total circulation of 24 million copies.
These advertisements will use a technique known in the advertising business as the bleed page. The background is a solid page of brilliant red with appropriate illustrations and copy designed to sell meat. It has been determined that these striking pages have a “stopper” value that makes readers notice them. Readership surveys have shown that such ads are observed by two and one-half times more readers than are other advertisements in the same magazines. These special eye-appealing ads will have special copy in the women’s magazines, but all will be timed to promote cuts of meat that are in plentiful supply. Some of the ads will give the best method of preparation and cookery.
Supplementing the magazine advertising is that of daily newspapers. Over 600 papers in more than 400 cities will carry large black-and-white ads periodically. These will keep the people informed of the meat situation, the nutritional facts about meat and offer suggestions to housewives.
Medical advertising must not be forgotten. Research relating directly to meat and its healthful qualities is developing many new ideas about the importance of meat in the diet, particularly of the sick patient. These facts are searched out and carefully verified and then disseminated to the medical profession, dietitians and nutritionists through ads in 17 national medical publications and 35 state journals.
Teachers and home economists are reached in a similar fashion through their own publications. In addition, classroom charts and pamphlets are distributed in quantity for use in the schoolroom. This type of information is used to instruct students in identifying the various cuts of meat, how best to prepare and cook them, as well as to emphasize the importance of meat in the diet.
Publicity and public relations are of growing importance in the meat-selling program of the institute. Story after story released during the war performed a valuable public service by informing the public through the press and radio of the current meat situation. Such information is continually being expanded and has become a regular service to thousands of daily and weekly publications and hundreds of radio stations. Pictures of attractively prepared meat dishes with recipes can be seen in almost any newspaper or magazine. Many of them are directly from the institute.
Only brief mention can be made of some of the other tools that will be used to promote the sale of meat. Some of them, while only mentioned here, are not to be thought of lightly, because they are powerful instruments in selling and promotion. Nor can the excellent and vast program of the National Live Stock and Meat Board be passed by without a word of praise for the great work the board has done, and is doing, in the field of research, education and information.
An expert staff of merchandising men are in constant contact with retail meat dealers advising and counselling on the best ways of selling meat. The institute is cooperating with the Can Manufacturers Institute, which is carrying on an elaborate advertising campaign to promote products in cans, including meat products. Doubtless, new markets will be found for many of the fine canned meat products developed as a result of the war. Quality canned dog food will be extensively promoted through a publicity campaign under the sponsorship of the institute.
Many research projects will be carried on, some of which will deal with meat preparation and nutrition. Prepackaged and frozen meats will doubtlessly come in for a share of promotion and play a role in the future meat picture.
In other words, the industry is in business to sell meat, and in all its long history no meat has been wasted because it couldn’t be sold. — Paul Ricks, American Meat Institute