Smithfield Racing Fueled by Bacon National Hog Farmer, Cheryl Day

America's pig farmers fuel the world with bacon

Pork producers are feeding NASCAR nation and beyond.

Just exactly who is eating the pork produced on America’s farms today? The vocal minority that puts science aside and makes demands on the way pigs are raised on the farm or the actual meat eater?

Often, the noise we hear about meat production is not from the actual customer we feed with delicious, wholesome pork. In many discussions, pig farmers have said to me “we are feeding NASCAR nation.”

Recently, I walked the track and pits of Charlotte Motor Speedway and experienced a NASCAR race in person. “Feeding NASCAR nation” is a portrayal of the average pork consumer that is very accurate. The real meat eater is fueled by bacon, juicy pork chops and savory ribs. They eat meat prepared in many different ways because it tastes good.

Taste, price and safety are three priorities of meat consumers. If you provide your customer with a pleasant eating experience, they will return for more. Is that not the key to selling more pork?

Often, I imagine a world where we raise meat for that exact crowd – people who have a hankering for the savory, succulent “America’s cut.” If only it were that simple – the freedom to raise pork for NASCAR nation.

Around the globe, pork is the most-purchased animal protein. The taste buds of the global consumer are assorted. There are consumers domestically and internationally who want nutritious pounds of pork at an affordable price. There are consumers who want the most flavor for their buck and others want a personal value investment built into their eating experience.

Food expert, Phil Lempert, says the pork industry needs to capitalize on the trends, but that can be tricky. The key is to create a “wow” to lure in consumers with their eyes, ears and tongues.

Currently, protein is the trend and today’s consumer cannot seem to get enough of it. Now is the time to introduce or re-introduce them to pork worth sinking their teeth into. Creating a product that the consumer craves and can’t get enough of is the ultimate dream.

While it is important to stay on trend by producing the product consumers want today, it is equally essential to sustain the pork consumer. Providing all customers with a consistent, quality pork product should be the real mission of the pork industry. It will take a highly coordinated and strong team to accomplish this.

Presently, the pork industry lacks the ability to identify pork quality factors at the retail level. That’s a hurdle hindering a large growth in sales of pork, especially domestically. The National Pork Board recognized the gap and dedicated Pork Checkoff dollars to the Pork Quality Initiative to enhance the consumers’ eating experience.

Still, providing the right pork product for the each marketplace domestically or abroad is tricky. In order for all pig farmers to be profitable, the entire carcass must be sold at an optimal price. The good news is international consumers tend to eat the cuts that U.S. consumers would not even attempt to try.

The strength of the U.S. pork industry lies in its diversity. The pork needs of consumers worldwide are honestly a mixed bag of personal preferences and cultural differences. It will take all pig farmers in the United States to fuel the world with wholesome, delicious pork wrapped in the desirable package.

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