With large pork supplies, the National Pork Board is investing additional resources in domestic and international markets
Bill Even, CEO , National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:04 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s Pork Pod. Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. This is Don Wick, speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff. And today, our guest is Bill Even, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Pork Board. Bill, with the current supply situation, we know that National Pork Board has stepped up with more investment in the international marketing and domestic marketing areas. Can you educate us, bring us up to speed on what’s being done?
Bill Even: 00:40 Sure thing, Don! So you look at the Pork Board, we do research, promotion, and education for the producer. And when you look at it through that lens, two out of every three dollars is actually spent on promotion. So that promotion, both domestic and international, is very important to the producers. And so when you look at the international side, we’re pretty close to 26 percent of our pork is being exported today. And really, you know, a scant 20 years ago, the U.S. was a net pork importer. And so our industry has grown, and consequently, the board of directors, the farmers that run the Pork Checkoff, have actually allocated over additional million dollars to work with the U.S. Meat Export Federation to help on some of those international markets. Not to mention the work that we do domestically.
Don Wick: 01:25 One of the chief issues that has been top of mind this past year has been on farm antibiotic use. We saw with the veterinary feed directive, those kinds of things going into place at the beginning of the year. No doubt producers are focused on responsible antibiotic use. Has that message gone through to the consumers, Bill?
Bill Even: 01:54 You know, the National Board has actually undertaken it’s greatest, you know, producer outreach education campaign here in 2016 talking with producers. So on that front, the producers themselves and the pork industry are well aware. I think the next challenge for us in the industry is to make sure that that message is getting to the consumers. So for example, this week, the National Pork Board is at the Global Ag Investing conference in New York City. We’re on the panel and we’re one of the sponsors of that event. And it’s another way of getting the antibiotics facts out in front of people that are in those large urban environments. And that is something shows up in things such as The Wall Street Journal. And that’s how you, you know, essentially get in front of the influencers. Let’s face it, Don, you know we do not have the budget to talk to over 300 million Americans. And so our job is to identify those key influencers, be they bloggers, food editors, people in the retail chain, and make sure they have the right information.
Don Wick: 03:01 And we’re making that impact? How do you see we are getting that job done?
Bill Even: 03:04 So we’re feeling very good about where we’re at right now, that the veterinary feed directive and the new FDA regulations that went in place in January. Those things are significant milestones for the pork industry and livestock agriculture in general. And so we have a number of good things that we can talk about there. So our outreach over the past year, what I am saying, I’m trying to think of all the different events. They start to run together in my mind. But whether it’s talking with having producers through Operation Main Street talk about these issues in their local communities or if it’s the Pork Board working at the national level in publications, whether it’s talking with NPR, Gannett News Service, and others, trying to get that out into the broader stream consumer media.
One area that we’re pretty excited about, Don, is really around the work with the multicultural marketing at the Pork Board. So when you look at, you know, we look at the U.S. demographics, the Caucasian population in the United States, about 60, you know, 66 percent of the U.S. population. And it’s slated to grow at about 1 percent between now and 2050, so pretty stable. But when you look at, say the minority populations, and Hispanics in particular. There are, you know, 18 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic today and that equates to about 58 million Americans. And so, their growth rate is expected to be over 160 percent between now and 2050. Which is really fantastic news for the pork industry because you’ve got, you know, a U.S. consumer demographic that loves our product. And so we’ve put together a real hard charging, devoted, marketing campaign outreaching, with outreach, to the Hispanic community in the U.S.. And we recently increased the budget into that to nearly 3 million dollars. Doesn’t sound like a lot at a high level, but by targeted investments and leveraging the digital media world today, we’ve really been able to stretch those dollars into the Spanish speaking community to make sure that they’re buying more pork.
Don Wick: 05:23 Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board. Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.