by Angela Anderson

Call them the ultimate ambassadors of pork. America’s multicultural consumers savor pork’s starring role in their cultural heritage and relish the chance to incorporate pork into their modern lifestyle. With record pork supplies, now is a prime time to connect with this growing market.To do that, earlier this year the Pork Checkoff introduced the Taste of Now campaign that focuses on pork’s flavor and value. The integrated campaign is being used for foodservice, retail, multicultural and general consumer marketing.

Taste of Now Multicultural Markets

“Hispanics and African-Americans are pork’s ‘super fans,’” said National Pork Board President Jan Archer, Goldsboro, North Carolina. “The Taste of Now targeted multicultural marketing campaign is connecting with these pork lovers to help move more product.”

Multicultural consumers represent a huge market poised to provide even greater opportunities. They make up about 38 percent of the U.S. population, or 120 million people. This segment increases by 2.3 million annually, according to U.S. Census.

The Pork Checkoff’s Taste of Now campaign acknowledges that multicultural consumers are increasingly influential both in restaurants and at the meatcase. They spend more than $40 billion annually on fresh food products, according to Nielsen data.

Among the nation’s top foodservice providers and retailers, they’ve become a key demographic to serve.

“These consumers are influencing flavors and trends in fine dining and at the grocery store,” said Patrick Fleming, director of market intelligence for the Pork Checkoff. “Their focus on flavor is driving fresh food trends, with many new flavor trends appearing from Latin America and Asia.”

The market potential of this sector is impressive.

According to a 2015 Nielsen report, The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers, multicultural-consumer spending in the United States today is $3.4 trillion. This “super consumer” group has tremendous impact on U.S. mainstream culture.

Multicultural consumers spend about 21 percent of their annual food dollars on fresh groceries (meat, produce, deli, bakery and seafood), which is about 4 percent more than other U.S. consumers.

Solidly on Team Pork

Spring POS campaign shelf talkerHispanics and African-American consumers share a love of pork. In the Checkoff’s latest biannual consumer tracking study, these consumers were identified as “pork enthusiasts” who consume the most pork within the Pork Checkoff’s target market of “creative cooks.”

“Hispanic and African-Americans consume pork more often than the general public,” said Stacie Schafer, the Pork Checkoff director of state marketing and consumer insight. “They also view fresh pork more favorably than the rest of the population.”

Pork is embedded in the culture of these consumers, according to José de Jesús, director of multicultural marketing for the Pork Checkoff.

“Flavor, one of pork’s strongest attributes, is one of the main reasons these consumers enjoy pork,” de Jesús said. “Beyond that, they simply love pork and purchase it more often.”

To connect with multicultural consumers, the Taste of Now campaign includes significant Spanish-language outreach (¡El Sabor de Hoy!), focusing on flavor and value, to encourage consumers to purchase and enjoy pork more often. The campaign will run through mid-April.

Pork te Inspira sweepstakes formPork Advocates Help Spread Messages

“Hispanic and African- American consumers’ love of pork represents a great opportunity,” Archer said. “The campaign is connecting with the pork lovers to help move the abundant pork supplies. We have teamed with celebrity chefs and pork advocates with a simple message. There has never been a better time to make something delicious with pork.”

The Pork Checkoff is working with Carlos Ponce, Puerto Rican actor, singer, composer and TV personality, to be the voice of pork to Hispanic consumers. For the African-American community, celebrity chef Richard Ingraham is sharing loin and rib recipes through interviews and social media.

Radio, Digital Ads Target Top Urban Markets

As a key component of the campaign, ¡El Sabor de Hoy! includes an 11-week radio and digital media buy in the top 10 Hispanic markets in the United States. The Taste of Now English-language campaign also is targeting the top 10 African-American markets

The campaign’s 15- and 30-second radio ads are being promoted through Univision Radio, iHeartRadio stations and streaming stations such as Spotify and Pandora. As part of the radio promotions, DJs are including pork as part of their daily “DJ drops” to encourage listeners to visit their retailer to buy pork, de Jesús said.

The Checkoff is executing a digital media buy targeting multicultural consumers.

“Radio and digital media are an effective way to reach these audiences,” de Jesús said. “This promotion has the potential to reach nearly 137.6 million consumers. We’re creating a sense of urgency to buy pork at their local retailers, which resonates with these shoppers.”

Digital influencers and food bloggers also continue to be a part of the multicultural marketing strategy in 2017. The Checkoff is working with 20 food bloggers and three digital influencers who have a strong following.

“We are encouraging influencers to highlight their culture and find authentic, individual ways to display their love of pork,” said de Jesús, adding that they also promoting the Taste of Now featured cuts.

Taste of Now Sweepstakes

Through April 15, consumers can go online and be rewarded for something they already are doing – enjoying pork. Daily prizes are awarded to people who share a photo of their pork dish on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the #PorkNowSweeps hashtag.

Pork lovers can share a photo of pork on their fork – or spoon, kebab, grill, plate or bowl – on social media. Everyone who enters has the chance to win a $10 coupon for a fresh pork purchase or other daily prizes totaling more than $10,000.

“While mealtime has always been about sharing and community, social media have changed the dynamic of that community and even the way we eat,” Archer said. “Now we can share our food experiences, photos and inspiration with others across America and even around the world.”

Retailers Also Onboard

Taste of Now Point-of-sale kit signThe Pork Checkoff is working closely with retailers located in the campaign’s targeted multicultural markets. Retailers are connecting with shoppers through point-of-sale materials that complement the radio messages. The Checkoff also shared a schedule of pork cuts that are being promoted during the campaign with retailers so they can tie these in with their store ads.

Though the end of April, the Taste of Now marketing materials will promote pork ribs, loins and hams.

“The photos, videos and recipes feature vibrant photography of easy, ethnic-inspired pork meals that appeal to all audiences, but specifically the multicultural consumer,” said Sara Crawford, director of retail marketing and innovation at the Pork Checkoff.

The retail tie-in with the Taste of Now campaign offers the opportunity for the Pork Checkoff to connect with top retailers in the markets, as well as to expand its pork presence with smaller or more regional retailers,” Crawford said. “We want to help our retail partners reach out to the growing multi-cultural consumer base, with the ultimate goal of increasing pork sales.”

Partnering with Waze

waze exampleThe Checkoff is collaborating with Waze, the world’s largest community-based navigation app, in the targeted multicultural markets. While car drivers or passengers use Waze on their phone, an ad pops up with a call to action to redirect them to the nearest retailer to buy pork.

“This taps into a new way to get pork messages to consumers in the targeted cities,” de Jesús said. “Hopefully, the prompt to visit their local retailer will be the encouragement consumers need to choose pork for their meal planning.”

Tapping the Potential

“It’s exciting to see all of the new ways that we’re reaching out to our biggest pork fans,” Archer said. “We appreciate their enthusiasm for our product, and we look forward to a continued conversation with this key market segment.”

Partnering with Celebrity Chefs

Teaming with celebrity chefs is helping the Pork Checkoff break through to both consumers and foodservice professionals with the Taste of Now messages, including at the prestigious South Beach Wine and Food Festival Feb. 22-26. The Pork Checkoff was front and center as the official pork sponsor and preferred protein of the event.This included being a presenting sponsor at the Swine and Wine, the Tacos After Dark and the Heineken Light Burger Bash® events. For the first time, the Burger Bash featured a pork burger, created by five-time James Beard Award nominee, chef José Mendín of Miami. This flavorful pork burger was a hit with attendees.

Meanwhile, celebrity chef Richard Ingraham is reaching out to African-Americans to share loin and rib recipes through interviews and social media.

Chef Richard Ingraham
Chef Richard Ingraham
Chef José Mendín

Videos Feature ‘Hero Cuts’ and Back-to-Basics Tips

Pork supplies are abundant and consumer demand is strong, so the Taste of Now campaign is reminding chefs and foodservice operators to bolster their creativity and bottom line with pork. Three new ads are sharing this message in foodservice publications.Also, foodservice marketing efforts are featuring three “hero” pork cuts: bone-in loin, boneless loin and ham. Integrated messages are highlighting menu and recipe innovation for these familiar cuts, as well as the profit potential pork offers as a menu item.

The Pork Checkoff is sponsoring three Buzzfeed Tasty videos for social media. The videos, which debuted at the end of February, feature breakfast enchiladas with ham, cheesy spinach stuffed pork chops and slow cooker honey-garlic pork sliders.

To create a buzz with busy, functional at-home cooks, 10 Back-to-Basics videos debuted in February. The featured topics, chosen to match the top Internet searches for pork how-to’s for consumers, are:

  1. How to cook a pork chop
  2. How to cook pork tenderloin
  3. Pulled pork basics
  4. Boneless pork loin basics
  5. How to cook ribs
  6. Ham basics
  7. Easy pork rib roast
  8. Bacon BBQ pork chops
  9. Honey ginger pork tenderloin
  10. Another how-to with ribs

Spring 2017 Foodservice ad

Great Taste Meets Value…

As part of the Taste of Now campaign, chef José Mendín created and stars in a multimedia series featuring the loin, ham, ribs and tenderloin, He created these 10 easy, budget-friendly recipes to inspire Latino consumers to indulge with pork. You can find the recipes at

adobo pork tacos
pork tenderloin with spicy chimichurri sauce
pork chops al pastor with chipotle marinade
peruvian pork stir fry
mojo marinated pork tenderloin
guava glazed back ribs
grilled pork anticuchos
grilled ham steaks with spicy teriyaki
green pea soup with ham
glazed pork saltimbocca with sage