National Pork Board to meet with producers in Ohio

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 – Continuing a practice begun several years ago, the National Pork Board will travel to Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 12 to meet with Ohio pork producers as part of its January board meeting. The board met with producers in North Carolina last January and with California producers the year before that.

“Being able to meet directly with pork producers in their home states gives the board a terrific opportunity to hear directly what’s on their minds,” said Tim Bierman, an Iowa producer who serves as president of the 15-member National Pork Board. “From our previous meetings, we know that sometimes the issues of concern for California producers can be very different than those of producers in North Carolina. For the board to be able to use the Pork Checkoff to serve the interests and needs of all producers, it’s important for us to learn about these regional differences.”

While in Columbus, board members also will meet with three of its marketing partners headquartered in Ohio. The board has placed special emphasis on product marketing in its 2010 plan and budget to help producers who have endured nearly two years of profitability challenges brought on by higher input costs and, more recently, by low prices.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, board members will discuss retail marketing with executives of the Kroger Co., one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers. They also will visit the headquarters of Bob Evans Farms, Inc., which operates more than 700 restaurants in 18 states, and the headquarters of Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc., the nation’s third largest quick service restaurant company with more than 10,000 restaurants.

On the board’s agenda for Jan. 14 is final approval of a new strategic plan for the organization. Drafted by a task force of producers – including several board members – from across the country, the plan is expected to provide direction for how the board will use Pork Checkoff revenue to achieve industry objectives over the next five years. If approved, board members and National Pork Board staff plan to discuss the plan with producers at state pork association meetings and with delegates to Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City in March prior to using the plan to guide budget deliberations for 2011.

Board members also will continue their discussion of the long-term brand positioning for pork and the role of The Other White Meat® trademark in that positioning.  “When a consumer hears about or thinks about pork,” Bierman said, “we want them to have a very specific positive reaction that prompts them to purchase pork products. How we make that happen is part of this effort to make sure we have positioned our brand in a way that leads to that positive reaction.”  The brand positioning work will continue throughout 2010.

The role that consumers’ taste preferences play in their choices for pork was examined in a recently completed and Pork Checkoff-funded national study led by Ohio State University. Dr. Steve Moeller of OSU, the project leader, will discuss the results with board members.

Finally, the board will examine results of the “Farmers Feeding US” promotion that was supported by the Pork Checkoff and by other commodity organizations in Ohio. The promotion featured a grand prize of a year’s worth of groceries for an entrant who visited to learn more about how Ohio farmers, including pork producers, raise their animals. The promotion, designed to increase the public’s knowledge of modern farming, is now being used by farmers in several other states.

Meetings of the National Pork Board are open to the public.

The National Pork Board has responsibility for Pork Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in consumer education and marketing, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety, and environmental management and sustainability. For the past half century, the U.S. pork industry has delivered on its commitment to sustainable production and has made significant strides in reducing the environmental impact of pig farming. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or visit