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Have food producers lost touch with mainstream?

Getty Images 4-20-22 beyond meat burger GettyImages-1268633487.jpg
David Kohl discusses his recent flight meal that had him asking for the beef.

The increased demand for face-to-face conferences and seminars for agricultural audiences is growing like the green shoots of spring. Of course, this requires increased air and ground travel when flight options and availability are very expensive and very limited to small and midsize cities. After addressing a recent West Coast dairy convention, a cross-country trip on my favorite airline had an interesting twist.

The flight attendant in first class announced that we had a delicious meal option on the five-hour trip. Unfortunately, the only choice was a Beyond Meat burger, which she indicated was vegan and came with an assortment of add-ons and a cheesecake dessert. My review of this experience might sound similar to a movie critique by Siskel and Ebert. First, the burger tasted like cardboard and left an interesting metallic taste in my mouth. The extras made the meal a little bit more desirable, but the cheesecake was the real deal.

The alternatives to traditional meals and products are really breaking into the mainstream marketplace as an option. Five years ago, people rolled their eyes in my seminars when I mentioned that meat and dairy alternatives would be a force in the marketplace and gain market share in the future. Whether it is on Delta Air Lines, in the big chain grocery stores, or at an exclusive resort like the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, these products are becoming more mainstream.

As the agriculture industry and food companies have consolidated, they have seemingly lost touch with the consumer both in the United States and abroad. For example, plant-based products are the fastest growing trend of Chinese youth eating habits. The disconnect between our producers and consumers appears to only be growing as food prices skyrocket.

The solution might be more small processing facilities and increased farm-to-table production. Multiple layers of regulation at the local, state, and federal levels need to be streamlined to allow small businesses and agricultural entrepreneurship to serve the customers that desire transparency and an enhanced customer experience.

As I conduct young farmer and rancher conferences nationwide, there is a growing trend of agri-entrepreneurship regardless of size and location of the business. This next generation of agriculturalists are in touch with the consumer, think outside the box, and are not confined by the corporate mentality and bureaucracy that often erodes the food and fiber system market share.

P.S.

Hopefully, I will be able to enjoy a good, traditional burger on future Delta Air Lines flights. I am sure that my blood pressure increased fourfold with all of the sodium that was in the Beyond Meat burger!

Source: David Kohlwhich is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

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