The Food Industry and Immigrant Markets

In the comments to the previous post, magictofu wonders if marketing certain types of food (in this case, chickens with darker, gamier tastes) to immigrant markets would help fastrack the development or simple availability of said products within the food industry.

My best guess answer to that suggestion is “It’d be nice, but don’t hold your breath”. Small farms simply don’t have the money to market products on that scale.

And Corporate Agriculture? For all of their size and wealth, Corporations are not risk takers by nature. A product, whether it’s a certain type of meat, or a new bottle of Coca-Cola, isn’t introduced to the marketplace until it’s been test marketed, poll researched and any number of other metric gathering activities that will prove that the product in question can be highly profitable. If a product is found to be only slightly profitable, or sometimes even only marginally profitable, it’s simply not worth the effort.

As an example…Which meat has had the greatest percentage increase in consumption here in the United States over the past ten years?

That’d be goat, which saw a 100% increase from between 1997 and 2002. This increase has a fair amount to do with the rise in certain cultural and ethnic groups, such as Muslims, Hispanics, Caribbean Islanders and Greeks. Why haven’t the major agri-businesses caught on to this trend?

Financially, they don’t have to. Here in the States when it comes to red meat, beef is still king, thank you very much, with the America eating 27 billion pounds in 2003. Compared to goats paltry 50.9 million pounds consumed by America in 2002, it’s no surprise that the major players in the market are aiming at the big prize, instead allowing Australia to pick up the slack, and roughly 17 million dollars annually, through the sales of imported goat.

What I suspect will happen is that a few select individuals outside of Corporate Agriculture, seeing the emerging markets, will take advantage of the opportunity and make a fair amount of money at it. Once a certain yearly income threshold brought in my the product has been crossed, then and only then will the big boys get involved.

Meanwhile, Bio-ag will try to sell American Products to the Immigrant populations, as that’s what they do best. They’ll market Coke and Pepsi (Corn via HFCS), McDonalds and Cow’s milk (beef and dairy cows), and beer and bread (wheat). Why? Because it’s easier and more cost effective to sell American Products to immigrants than it is to sell Immigrant products to Americans. When’s the last time you saw a billboard that read “Got Goat’s Milk?”

Of course all of this is simply my opinion based on nothing except observations and 2 semesters of Economics. Just some thoughts that came to me as I thought about magictofu’s observation.

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