TWO of the nation's top meat industry organizations are considering a possible merger. The American Meat Institute (AMI) and the North American Meat Assn. (NAMA) announced Sept. 12 that their leaders have had initial discussions about merging under a single banner.
The executive committees of both associations voted in favor of pursuing discussions to create a new organization to represent the meat and poultry industry.
According to a joint statement, a committee composed of members from each association will be formed to discuss next steps and to explore how a new organization can best serve its members.
Discussions are anticipated to occur during the next several months, but spokespeople for both groups said no timeline has been set for the discussions, and plans for examining the possible coupling are still in the very early stages.
AMI chairman Nick Meriggioli, executive vice president of Kraft Foods Group and president of Oscar Mayer, along with NAMA co-presidents Mike Hesse, director of sales and marketing of BPI Technology Inc., and Anthony Gahn Jr., president of Gahn Meat Co. Inc., said, "We believe that these discussions hold great promise for creating a new organization that could leverage the strengths that both AMI and NAMA offer. It is our intention to pursue discussions in a measured, thoughtful manner that will serve the interests of our associations' members."
A NAMA representative indicated that the impending retirement of AMI president and chief executive officer J. Patrick Boyle sparked talks among the organizations' key leaders.
"Any time there is a change in leadership, it's an opportunity to see if there's a way to go forward that is in the best interests of the members," Jeremy Russell, NAMA director of communications and government relations, said.
Boyle, AMI's longest-serving president, announced in July that he would retire at year-end. He has served the organization since 1990 following a tenure as administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service.
Earlier this month, NAMA moved its headquarters from Reston, Va., to Washington, D.C. The group said it was renewing its focus on activities in the nation's capital, thus scaling down its office space and staffing at its satellite office in Oakland, Cal., which houses NAMA's communications and regulatory staff.
AMI, a national trade association based in Washington, represents companies that process 95% of the red meat and 70% of the turkey in the U.S. and their suppliers.
NAMA was formed in 2012 through the consolidation of the North American Meat Processors Assn. and the National Meat Assn. and represents more than 600 member companies in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and abroad.