"Mom, what's for dinner?" is a question I have received countless times in my household over the years, and I would say 50% of the time or more I often reply, "pork." Now as Americans across the country are quarantining over COVID-19 concerns, stocking up at grocery stores and cooking three square meals a day at home, I hope more parents are answering "pork" to that very question. After all, pork is not only a nutritious, delicious source of protein, the product is versatile and family friendly.
Those are the two primary messages Pork Checkoff is amplifying to consumers, who are now searching the meat cases for available protein while trying to stretch their food dollar.
"We want to make sure that consumers who are buying products that they haven't purchased in the recent past, or maybe ever, have better access to simple, easy pork preparation ideas," says Angie Krieger, vice president of domestic marketing with National Pork Board.
Thankfully the Pork Checkoff already has several assets in the arsenal that highlight the convenience of cooking pork through a variety of preparation methods. Recipes, how-to videos, cooking times and directions for getting pork to its proper temperature are all available through the Pork Checkoff's YouTube channel, Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as at Pork.org.
However, one message Krieger says Pork Checkoff is emphasizing now, is the ability to cook pork once, eat twice. A shoulder roast or pork butt is a great example of this.
"We know that when people go out to eat, they love pulled pork, but they might not know that pulled pork comes from a shoulder roast or a butt roast and so we'll be ramping up efforts to have content in the marketplace that will show consumers how easy it is to throw that roast in the crockpot," Krieger says. "You know, set it in and forget it, go back, shred it, and use it not only for pulled pork sandwiches but possibly throw some Mexican seasoning on it and use it for tacos or enchiladas or some other dishes, so you've got a couple meals out of it."
Another example would be the pork loin, a cut Krieger says consumers might be intimidated by at first.
"That's another fantastic cut, but people may say, 'Man, this is a big piece of meat. What do I do with it?'" Krieger says. "We've worked with creators and have content on our YouTube channel and they'll show someone saying, 'OK, here are four meals you can get out of this pork loin, depending on the size of your family. So, cut one piece into a roast, have some chops and you can grill those or fry them up, and then dice the rest of it and use it as an ingredient on pasta or on salads. We're making sure that folks have those kinds of tips in hand."
During this time, Krieger says the Pork Checkoff also wants to get across the message that pork is family friendly and easy to prepare.
"I'm a mom of four. All of my kids are home now for three meals a day. It's very different. Life has been canceled. There are no activities. I'm working from home. I'm not traveling, and again just being very mindful of stretching that food dollar," Krieger says. "We want to make sure that folks are not having to worry about what they're going to put on the table at night and also finding ways for kids to maybe help in meal preparation — kind of bringing back those family values and sharing ideas on how that third meal that you've had during the day can still be something kind of special with pork, without a lot of effort."
In a time of anxiety and uncertainty, Krieger says Pork Checkoff not only wants to make cooking with pork easy for consumers during this time and going forward, but also to reassure U.S. pork producers the organization is continuing to proudly promote its products.
"We are so proud of our producers and the product that our producers grow, and this is a time where our industry will once again rise to the occasion and put real value and real nutrition back on the plates of consumers," Krieger says. "It does create an opportunity for consumers who maybe have not looked at pork as a go-to for cooking at home for various reasons. They're having the opportunity to try it again and we want to make sure that they're incredibly satisfied and see that pork should be part of their routine going forward."