by Bill Even

When I worked in government as secretary of agriculture in South Dakota, I never liked the idea that sometimes having nothing happen was a politically acceptable outcome. To achieve results on the family farm, hard work was expected. I know that is what U.S. pork producers expect as well.

Pig farmers are “get it done,” can-do people, no matter the challenges. You proactively tackle issues and seek opportunities in the cyclical, often volatile, world of agriculture. You run your business this way and maintain that expectation when you work collectively through the Pork Checkoff.

This year’s Pork Forum theme, Power of Pork…Moving Mountains, reflects this expectation. Forum, held in March, is the pork industry’s annual business meeting.

I want you to know that the Pork Checkoff is addressing the need to move the nation’s ample pork supplies head on.

Over the past six months, the National Pork Board has:

  • Reorganized the Domestic Marketing team to align work and eliminate costly duplication of effort.
  • Allocated an additional $1.1 million to domestic marketing to step up fourth-quarter 2016 pork sales.
  • Increased international trade spending by 12 percent to assist global pork exports through the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
  • Directed alignment of domestic and international marketing to identify areas to leverage ideas, content and appropriate marketing campaigns across cultures.
  • Created a Digital Strategy Team to build a new, aligned web strategy to reach producers and consumers by consolidating the current 23 pork websites down to two and creating a refreshed mobile effort.
  • Ramped up multicultural marketing spending to extend our engagement with the fastest growing consumer demographic in the U.S., namely Hispanics who enjoy pork.
    Bottom line: It is a strategy that allows pork to tap deeply into two powerful demographic groups – millennials and multicultural consumers – and to take advantage of the increasing reach of mobile technology.

Millennials.

Commodity associations and corporations are trying to figure out how to market to millennials, who were born between 1982 and 2000. Millennials have overtaken baby boomers as America’s largest generation (83.1 million versus 75.4 million, according to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau estimates). As they enter the workforce and start families, their influence over the economy increases.

Three of every four U.S. consumers eat pork. We need to continue to cater to these consumers, and millennials are key.

Mobile.

One of the pluses of effectively engaging millennials is that you automatically tap into the massive trend of mobile connectivity. We have continuously increased our investments in digital marketing – from $2.25 million in 2016 to $3.5 million this year – to promote pork online and to connect with consumers through mobile technology. Our focus in this evolving area is to ensure pork can influence online conversations to remain top of mind with consumers.

Multicultural.

The increasing focus of many of the Pork Checkoff’s conversations and messages is on multicultural consumers. Today, 38 percent of Americans are Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and other minority groups. Half of these are Hispanic, which equates to more than 58 million people.

The population growth rate of this sector is staggering. The projected growth of the nation’s Caucasian population is 1 percent through 2050, while the U.S. Hispanic segment is anticipated to soar by 167 percent. This triple-digital growth rate offers a phenomenal opportunity for pork, which remains a traditional, beloved part of Hispanic culture.

Hispanic consumers do not want to be “sold,” and it is ineffective to merely translate English-language pork promotions into Spanish-language marketing campaigns. The Pork Checkoff is diligently investing time and resources to take a respectful, responsive approach, which you can read about in the cover story (page 12).

We are working closely with our Hispanic-run marketing firm Republica in Miami to gain deep insights into this key audience so we can connect with them in a sincere way that resonates.

Exports.

International marketing also plays a critical role in finding new pork consumers. U.S. pork exports need to increase from the current 25 percent to over 30 percent in the next five years.

During these times of uncertain and changing trade policy, the National Pork Board’s directors, in conjunction with the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the National Pork Producers Council, is making a special effort to connect with Mexico, our No. 1 importer of U.S. pork.

The timing of the international trade focus is good because U.S. pork exports have been incredibly strong and support the market during periods of increasing production.

I am confident these decisions and additional investments will pay dividends in the months and years ahead. As a pork producer, you can also be proud the National Pork Board has the talent, knowledge and insight to be a proactive solutions provider.

We never forget that we work for you and are accountable for results. That is the Power of Pork.