Meat Merchandising │Next & Best Outlooks with Catie Beauchamp

The daughter of a hog farmer, Catie Beauchamp says she always knew she wanted to be in “AG” when she grew up. Today she is the VP of Technical Services at Colorado Premium, with a Ph.D. in Meat Safety & Quality.

Beauchamp’s3.18CPstaffpic (2) command of the beef production chain is highly astute, which includes, animal transport, harvest, carcass chilling, fabrication, grinding and storage. Her expertise in food technologies and safety is rivaled only by a laser focused passion for creating the best products for her customers.

How did you actually get into the “meat business”?

I knew I always wanted to be involved with agriculture, but on the nutrition side, which is what I started with in college. Then along the way, you meet people – in food microbiology and food production. That is how I came to do my graduate work in food science, meat science, and meat microbiology.

What do your days look like now?

From a departmental perspective, we do quality assurance, food safety, regulatory compliance, tech support for customers and R&D. We work in a high energy environment. When I started at CP [six years ago] we had 80-100 people and one production facility. Now we have three production facilities and two storage facilities. At any given time we have 30 projects in process. Our rate of commercialization is about 50% – it’s incredible!

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite area would be R&D. It’s fun to look into the future. You’re getting constant challenges, and when you resolve it, it’s a win. I love to create new products.

How do you do that with meat?

What we’re dealing with is an animal is that’s getting bigger and bigger. We have to address: How do we cut that? How should we process that? What do we need to do to have a good plate experience? You have to look at different cuts of meat in the carcass. There are other things we can use for things you wouldn’t expect.

For example, thin meats [flan3.19 CP Antimicrobial Interventionks, inside and outside skirts] are expensive, yet popular – but there’s only so much to be had because it’s such a small portion of the carcass. We can create new thin meats from other muscles that can mimic traditional thin meats. Skirts are expensive because they are in high demand and come from the small portion of the carcass. (Pictured Above: Antimicrobial Intervention Cabinet at one of Colorado Premium’s production facilities.)

Is it possible to come up with new steak cuts – like the Vegas Steak?

Yes, and no. The muscles without a lot of defects are pretty well known, but there should be a couple more ‘Vegas Steaks’ possible.

The combinations of muscles are standard in the Meat Buying Guide, but for a Packer to create a whole new SKU, break the muscles differently, etc., there has to be a market for it. You need to be able to merchandise all of it, plus find new ways to produce value.

From a steak perspective, the new novel items are going to have to be addressed in ways they haven’t been before, we need to look at fabricating. In addition to proper aging, tenderizing and injections, we’re going to have to look outside the box for processing.

Injection is a hot trend, how does that work from a production standpoint?

We marinate a lot of products, whether it’s tumble margination or injection. We do it for retail and food service. From a retail perspective, we provide products that are cook ready. From a food service perspective, we’re giving a little bit of insurance to meat drying out when cooked, especially for less than prime products.

How many speci3.19 PORK ROAST 2 - CITRUS HERBal service requests are you getting?

It depends on what market sector you’re talking about. In food service, restaurant groups are constantly reinventing themselves to stay competitive, usually on an annual basis. We work with a lot of up and coming concepts; our food service customers want to be on top of what’s new and available. (Pictured Left: Citrus Herb Pork Roast exclusively developed for a private label customer.)

In retail, the Millennials have impacted our business in a big way – they want clean labels, have more adventurous palettes, etc. Low sodium, clean labels and animal handling are key issues.

What is your definition of a ‘clean label’?

There are two sides to that question; one is the actual protein product itself. A portion of the population is interested in the use of antibiotics in animal feeding, etc. However, that’s still at a niche level and cost is also prohibitive for a lot of consumers.

The second part speaks to an ingredient perspective: people want to see things familiar to them on a retail package. (Food service is now adopting to that too.) Some ingredients are preservatives, some are for shelf life, but there’s also antimicrobials that ensure safety. Helping our customer base understand the purpose of antimicrobials is important to food safety.

What are your expectations on cattle supply?

As we start increasing the cattle supply we’ll be looking at something different – you still have areas in your prime states that don’t have water, plus other weather interferences that occur. There are people being weeded out of production groups that may never come back.

It’s very hard to project what volumes we’re going to have. The historical trends, peaks, and valleys can be thrown off trend, even when supply and demand are better. When consumers are paying higher prices, we need to produce healthy and affordable proteins. We have to get really good at how we merchandise beef.

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Local Markets: Artizone Connects Artisans to Online Sales

If you haven’t heard about Artizone yet, you probably aren’t aware of how easy they’ve made it to shop with local Artisans online now.

“Being able to bring small batch artisans to people’s homes is what we’re all about,” explains Artizone’s COO, Lior Lavy. “Artizone is honored to have many of Chicago’s great purveyors [Buedel included] choose our company’s technology and services to help develop strategies for building their online sales channels.”

Artizone came to Chicago in 2012, just two years after starting in the Dallas market. With plans to expand into additional markets this year, Artizone is poised to be the innovative leader in uniting local Artisanship with online shopping.

Is Artizone essentially a Peapod for Artisans?

That’s a fair statement, but what you really mean is grocery shopping only. Everything you buy [from Artizone] is from small vendors and local. If we don’t have a “core” item, we can source it locally – if we don’t have it by a local artisan, we try to buy from local retailers and businesses.

ArtizoneDiagramHow did the idea for Artizone come about?

I was the last hire of an executive branch of a French based [software] company in 2009. I say ‘last hire’ because, on the very same day they hired me, corporate management unleashed a major reorganization with big cut backs. When this happened, the executives that hired me chose to break away, hired key people that were let go and decided to create a new company.

We sat down to think about what kind of direction could keep everyone engaged and then looked for new ideas. We all had a passion for small businesses – for people who love what they do, not because they get paid for it. We all loved, cooking, traveling and finding good places to eat.

In 2009, you didn’t know what you were shopping for online, what the product really was. We believed if we could combine online shopping and food and, could own 360 degrees of the transaction, we could provide the artisans with everything they need, and all they needed to do was provide the product.

The more we dove in, we found the small businesses had such a hard time trying to sell to large grocery stores. You have to look at what happened in the market in the last six years. You had the butcher, today the butcher shop becomes a specialized niche – the demand changed. But not everyone is going to drive necessarily in to the city to buy meat at Paulina Market. By having Paulina available through Aritzone, you can shop at that level anytime.

Since starting in Dallas, what differences were there between that market and Chicago’s?

There is no competition in Dallas for online grocery. We’re the only one in the market. Dallas gets more regular items ordered than Chicago. In Chicago there is a high demand for gluten free items – we may have the biggest amount of gluten free items online now.

We’re also very excited about being at the Good Food Festival later this month – we will be bringing home cooked meals to the event!

You also have nationwide delivery; how is that going?

We want to help small artisans reach that market level; there’s no reason not to ship consumable packaged goods. But, it always needs to make sense – once you go nationwide, it’s no longer the place where you grocery shop, but where you find products.

What about wholesale opportunities?

We do have a B2B service. Buyers can work with me directly to set up an account for what they want to buy.

What market will you go to next?

Denver, this Spring. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s when you put your product in the hands of the consumers that don’t get paid to use your product, the results are brutal. When you are doing online grocery shopping, customers don’t owe you anything.

You use to go to the store with your Mom or Dad, it was the one activity you were exposed to as a child that had a hunting instinct – it’s not the same as the website. I have been buying most everything online exclusively since 1996, so my kids don’t get going to the market – they don’t know the pulse of the market because they don’t go there.

Do you think brick and mortar will ultimately vanish?

I personally don’t want to see the day when there are no stores on the streets. However, those stores have to become more niche-y and interesting. I want the artisans to stay on the streets and maximize their potential online.

But hasn’t tech really changed the way we do things?

Yes, but when you place an order with Artizone it is the Artisans that handle the order personally. It is a different transaction – there are no warehouse pickers. The people who put your product together are the very same people who would be doing so if you walked into their shop.

What do the Artisans have to say about Artizone?

I think the Artisans appreciate that we are responsive and invested in them. Our brand is all about that. Everything they need, they get. We open the door for them to have more.

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