By Bill Even, National Pork Board CEO
“Change is inevitable… adaptation and survival are optional.”
This old adage is a powerful reminder that regardless of your business, you must be willing to continuously reevaluate your business model if your enterprise is going to survive long-term. For the pork industry, this means making some strategic changes in how your Pork Checkoff dollars are invested.
Our goal is to keep pork top of mind with key buyers, to promote high-quality pork products for a consistent eating experience, to make it easier than ever for people to find information at pork.org, and more, all to help demand for pork and boost your profit potential.
To do that, the National Pork Board of Directors is driving four priorities in 2017, outlined here. Together, they will set the base for 2018 and beyond.
Business-to-Business Domestic Marketing Focus
The Pork Checkoff has been using a business-to-consumer advertising approach for over 30 years, but we are switching to a business-to-business consulting strategy in 2018. The goal? Reach more key supply chain influencers more quickly to drive more pork sales.
This is a fundamental change. Solely advertising fresh pork as a generic commodity to consumers worked in the 1980s, 1990s and even into the early 2000s, but the pork supply chain has changed dramatically since 1987.
In 1987, for example, when Pork. The Other White Meat® debuted, it was much easier to reach a broad cross-section of American consumers. Only three national TV networks existed and cable TV was in its infancy.
Not only have communication channels evolved rapidly since then – from the internet to smartphones – but rapid consolidation has also transformed the supply chain in recent years. This has been accompanied by the rise of branded pork products, such as Walmart’s Great Value® brand or Costco’s Kirkland® brand. And new players such as Amazon have entered the food business in a way that will be disruptive to existing businesses.
Shifting to a business-to-business domestic marketing strategy means we will take a more expert, consultative approach to provide our supply chain partners with market insights to help get more pork in front of consumers.
We added a new packer/processor industry relations position to regularly connect with the packers on marketing topics. We also added a full-time social responsibility position to consistently connect with senior corporate food executives on freedom to operate issues and to tell our We Care® story.
We are conducting a strategic review of the Sustainability Committee mission, designed to determine how to broaden our research and advocacy communications beyond the crucial base of environmental concerns. We want to include the broader category of social responsibility that encompasses animal well-being and the environment.
These critical changes in Domestic Marketing will empower us to share the pork industry’s social responsibility goals and success stories with key influencers in the business-to-business sector to help drive pork sales.
Consistent Eating Experience
It is surprising to note that outside of processed pork products such as bacon and ham, the average American consumes fresh pork only 6.7 times per year. This is a pathetically low number. The Pork Checkoff’s years of consumer research tell us the primary barrier to repeat purchases of fresh pork is a poor eating experience. Put simply, overcooking, low marbling and confusion on pork cut names all add up to low consumer satisfaction. But we can fix this and provide consumers with a better eating experience.
Three keys to making that happen are improving pork quality (marbling), updated pork cut names (nomenclature) and a lower recommended end-point cooking temperature (145° with a 3-minute rest). The Pork Checkoff is working across all three fronts with research, education and outreach. We also are committed to helping our channel partners continue to let consumers know about the new pork cut names and lower end-point cooking temperature.
We want consumers to look for such cuts as a Porterhouse pork chop or a ribeye pork chop, to know that it will be a consistent quality and then to get more eating enjoyment from a lower cooking temperature.
New Digital Strategy
The motto for the internet era could be, “If you can’t find it on Google in 10 seconds, it doesn’t exist.”
While the National Pork Board has been using online communications to share pork producers’ stories for years, we need to streamline and standardize our efforts and move from “me too” tactics to a comprehensive digital strategy.
Did you know the National Pork Board had 23 different websites targeted to various audiences? This old approach was cannibalizing our online search effectiveness and costing us money. But with our new digital strategy, we are reorganizing all this information into one flagship website…the revamped pork.org, which will debut in December.
Based on input from producers, consumers, retailers and others, our website is being redesigned with users in mind. We will have timely information available at people’s fingertips and build our reputation as the one-stop shop for pork information.
Our digital strategy team also will manage Pork Checkoff social media in a consistent manner to coordinate with the Pork Board’s larger strategic plan.
Evolving Secure Pork Supply Plan
case of a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak? The Pork Board, as part of the USDA’s Secure Food Supply framework, participated in the development of the Secure Pork Supply plan to answer that critical question and others. The plan will enhance communication and coordination of all pork chain segments in the event of a FAD with the goal of getting back to business as usual as quickly as possible.
To enhance the plan, the Pork Board is working with the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, a member of the Texas A&M University System, to build a digital “dashboard” that will give state veterinarians real-time access to select pieces of producer data needed to make a decision for allowing movements.
While participation in the plan will be voluntary and producers can control when and how the data is shared, all producers are encouraged to participate once enrollment opens.
New Priorities Set the Stage for 2018