AAMP Convention 2018: More than a trade show, it’s a reunion for the meat industry

John Brewer, Excalibur’s vice-president of sales & marketing, (second from left), just returned from Kansas City for the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) Convention. Following the event, John reflects on what’s trending for meat processors and reactions to Excalibur’s new international flavors.

 What was your overall impression of AAMP this year?

John: This is a great show for us, and we look forward to it each year. The President’s Reception at the beginning of the show is a great social event that gives us the opportunity to catch up with customers and new AAMP Members.

We always look forward to the ACMC Awards Ceremony and that provided a great takeaway. In almost every category, Excalibur had a winner or a Grand Champion. Jake Sailer from our customer Sailer’s Food Market & Meat Processing was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Excalibur’s Rick McLimans won the Witt Supplier of the Year Award. Incredibly exciting.

What kind of value does a show like this offer Excalibur?

John: For many of us, it’s like a family vacation and more of a reunion of sorts than a typical convention. We hear about kids growing up, not just how the business is growing.

This was my 20th year at AAMP and I can’t imagine missing it. AAMP’s attendees all know us, are familiar with our product quality and our level of service. We are a destination point for most all plants during exhibition hours.

So, what were the products that had attendees talking this year?

 John: The AAMP crowd is artisan, for sure. They are always looking for something new and unique and this show is a launch pad for new products.

These days clean label, all-natural and new processes are the big draw. International flavors are all the rage. Customers are familiar with it from meal kits and the Food Channel.

And Excalibur’s new international flavors?

John: While Excalibur had promoted the new international line at state shows prior to AAMP, this time we used the sausage blends – Harissa, Piri Piri, Gochujang and Szechwan – as a topical rub for beef and pork and the response was phenomenal. People said the meat was perfectly balanced – just the right amount of heat and flavor.

We took customer orders from almost all of the international line products that we promoted. In fact, a lot of people were looking for them because of the email marketing that we did ahead of the show. It was well-received.

The international flavors as a topical seasoning? Are there plans to turn any of the four into a “shaker”?

John: We’re always reviewing the shaker category. It shows diversity in the line because people can put the seasonings on whatever they choose. In fact, the Gochujang was so well-received and an AAMP crowd favorite that we want to look at it as a shaker option.

And another product that’s coming soon from Excalibur went over quite well?

 John: That was our Sugar-Free/No-Nitrate Bacon Blend. A lot of people stopped by to try it and were surprised by the flavor profile. We’ve had a lot of requests for sugar-free products – even a customer at AAMP happened to ask if we had such an offering – so our timing was good. They are extremely popular right now. We’re taking orders for the bacon blend so that’s a testimony to the product.