Slagerij toonbank

Challenges for the meat industry: effectiveness of launching innovations 

Why this project?

The meat sector has been confronted with some very big challenges in recent years, both socially (such as animal welfare, health, environmental impact, etc.) and economically. The entire chain has made great efforts in the past few years to find innovative solutions to these challenges. For example, there have been innovations in sustainability, product reformulation, animal welfare, health, etc. 
However, companies are finding it difficult to bring these efforts and innovations to the consumer in a reliable way. There is currently a huge overload of information that causes confusion and misinformation. The consumer has difficulty separating science-based information from other information. The companies are looking for support and tested tools and knowledge that will increase the effectiveness of launching innovations.

Research approach

Meat the Challenge is a collective research development and dissemination project (type COOCK) with the objective of gathering knowledge about the effectiveness of communication strategies for innovations. The approach:

  • Communication strategies and consumer thoughts will be researched based on 5 company cases with specific topics and the role of meat in these cases. 
    • Possible topics: 
      • Innovations for sustainability
      • Innovations for food safety/allergens
      • Product diversification
      • Health and the link with meat consumption
      • Meat products with a clean label
    • Generic information will be distributed in workshops for the broad target group so that they can make immediate use of what they have learned.
  • Creating a think-discuss-disseminate-do-tank, in short 5D tank, that will later evolve into a ‘Meat advisory panel’
    • Actors from the meat sector (companies, federations and knowledge institutes), communication world (knowledge institutes, PR bureaus, media), nutrition and sustainability experts will be gathered together
    • Science-based information will be gathered from this tank
    • The knowledge will be evaluated in a broader international framework

Target group and expected results

This project is geared towards the entire meat sector, throughout the entire chain, from producer, slaughterhouse, butcher, processor to seller. 
The ‘Meat advisory panel’ will provide correct, science-based and validated information as well as put information that appears in the media into context where needed. They will also help put the efforts made by the meat-processing industry to find solutions for social problems into context. The information can be consulted by meat companies, related businesses, federations and other institutes and used to support their communications. The generic knowledge from the cases, regarding the impact of different manners of communicating and the real consumer concerns will be integrated into practical workshops. The tools that are developed will allow companies to set up their communication strategies, adapted to the specific message, to bring their innovations (new products or innovative product processes) successfully on the market. Lastly, Flanders’ FOOD will also have access to an advice network to assist companies with their communication strategy.  

Project partners

Flanders’ FOOD manages and coordinates the project.  
The following research institutes and partners are responsible for the execution

  • Research group ‘Media, ICT and Interpersonal relations in Organisations and Society (MIOS)’ from the University of Antwerp, under the supervision of Prof. Charlotte De Backer.
  • Fenavian, under the supervision of Anneleen Vandewynckel
  • Belgian association of meat science and technology (Bamst), under the supervision of Prof. Frédéric Leroy
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Universiteit Antwerpen
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