Wednesday 20 February 2019

Marketing people: Michelle White

Michelle White - Group head of marketing, Dawn Meats

Michelle White
Michelle White

John McGee

Set up in Waterford in 1980, the family-owned Dawn Meats is one of the country’s largest meat processors. It has more than 7,000 staff working in 12 different countries around the world and exporting to 50 different countries, as Michelle White explains to John McGee.

Describe your role with Dawn Meats.

In 2017, Dawn Meats and Dunbia agreed a strategic partnership to establish a joint venture in the UK comprising the operations of both organisations there. At the same time Dawn Meats also acquired the Irish operations of Dunbia, which further enhanced Dawn’s presence in Ireland.

As group head of marketing, my role has evolved significantly this year. Historically, I focused on consumer insight and worked closely with the new product-development team monitoring consumer trends and launching the right product offerings to market. Within the expanded company, the remit of the marketing team has now extended to include multi-platform digital activity, public relations, community outreach, trade and agriculture events and internal communications to keep our 7,000 employees engaged with what’s happening across the company.

What marketing challenges do you face?

There’s no question that the way we eat has changed in a generation. The imperative for every marketeer is knowing their customer inside out and this is critical in the food industry. The range of restaurants and retail options available to consumers is evidence of changing tastes. In addition to more varied dietary choices, consumers have also become more informed and engaged about the food they eat and the provenance of that food.

How do you overcome these?

We work to respond to strong demand for the premium, high-quality, grass-fed meat that we have become synonymous with, and to communicate the role red meat plays in sustaining a healthy, balanced diet.

As more export markets open up to premium beef, this demand is set to increase. We need to balance this with our active pipeline of innovation to tap into changing consumer tastes and dietary references. In addition, telling our story of sustainable production and our strong commitment to animal welfare is hugely important. As a founding member of Origin Green, we want customers to enjoy meat that has been sourced responsibly. This commitment applies right throughout our supply chain.

What marketing initiatives are under way?

One key priority for us is reducing packaging and single-use plastics in favour of recyclable materials, while maintaining the shelf life and visual quality of products. We have already made significant progress. Last year saw us divert over 400 tonnes of plastic from landfill.

Returning to changing consumer behaviours, we are also innovating in the area of on-the-go snacks, that provide superior, nutritious sustenance on the move, made with the finest grass-fed, free-range meat, dried fruits and seeds.

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