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Meat processing organizations explore merger

By JERRY HAGSTROM

For the Capital Press

Two large meat processor associations have announced their intention to enter negotiations to combine.

WASHINGTON — The Washington, D.C.-based American Meat Institute and the Oakland, Calif.-based North American Meat Association have announced that the organizations have initiated discussions about a possible merger.

Within the industry, AMI is viewed as the representative of the big packers and their suppliers. Together they process 95 percent of the red meat and 70 percent of the turkey in the United States.

NAMA, which has its origins in small western packer groups, is seen as the representative of the smaller packers. NAMA also conducts training sessions in which larger companies also participate. With differences in geography and leadership, conflicts between the two organizations over policy, personality and style are legendary.

Changes of leadership may have created the circumstances for the proposed merger.

AMI President J. Patrick Boyle announced in July that he would step down at the end of 2013 after 24 years with the organization.

Rosemary Mucklow was executive director of the National Meat Association until 2007 and is now director emeritus of NAMA, focusing on regulatory and business issues and membership. She has been associated with NAMA and its predecessor organizations for more than 50 years.

Barry Carpenter, former director of the USDA’s livestock and feed program, is the CEO of NAMA. Carpenter, who spent 37 years with USDA, joined the National Meat Association in 2007.

“The executive committees of both associations this week voted in favor of pursuing discussions to create a new organization to represent the meat and poultry industry,” AMI and NAMA said in a joint news release.

A committee of members from each association will be formed to discuss the next steps and how a new organization could best serve its members. Discussions are anticipated to occur during the next several months, the two groups said.

The announcement was made by AMI Chairman Nick Meriggioli, executive vice president of Kraft Foods Group and president of Oscar Mayer, and NAMA co-presidents Mike Hesse, director of sales and marketing of BPI Technology, Inc., and Anthony Gahn, Jr., president of Gahn Meat Co.

“We believe that these discussions hold great promise for creating a new organization that could leverage the strengths that both AMI and NAMA offer,” the statement said. “It is our intention to pursue discussions in a measured, thoughtful manner that will serve the interests of our associations’ members.”

NAMA was formed in 2012 from a merger of the National Meat Association and the North American Meat Processors Association. According to the NAMA website, NAMP was formed in 1942 when Illinois-based institutional meat purveyors banded together as the National Association of Hotel and Restaurant Meat Purveyors to deal with the government, which had imposed wartime price controls and rationing. As a result of this organization’s efforts, the regulation was amended and all sellers of meat products to hotels and restaurants were permitted to sell their products at a fair price.

The association changed its name to the National Association of Meat and in 1996 to the North American Meat Processors Association to reflect that it had begun to serve members in Canada, Mexico and other countries.

The National Meat Association’s first predecessor organization, Western States Meat Packers Association, was formed in 1946. Two years later the Pacific Coast Meat Association, was chartered. These two joined together in 1982 to become the Western States Meat Association.

The National Meat Association was formed in 1995 in a merger of the Western States Meat Association and the Mountain/Plains Meat Association. NAMA has prided itself on providing regulatory experts that provide one-on-one assistance to companies in handling regulatory challenges.



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