Domestic Pork Product Marketing

Some of the markets available domestically are evolving as consumers' preferences change and as technology allows for product development. Niche markets including natural pork, organic pork, welfare-friendly pork, antibiotic-free pork, or process-verified pork have become more commonplace. Nutraceutical uses of pork to satisfy certain nutritional needs are also receiving more attention. Fresh pork enhanced with a solution of ingredients designed to improve the tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of pork has become well accepted in the industry. Over half of all fresh pork is enhanced, and consumers have come to expect the flavor and tenderness profile associated with this technology.

Channel marketing of fresh pork can be subdivided into retail and foodservice marketing and the distributors who deliver the product to the appropriate channel. Pork is marketed about equally in the foodservice and retail markets.

Although pork is marketed at virtually every retail grocery store with a meat department and is usually the most profitable meat, pork cuts are typically underrep-resented in the meat case. According to a pork industry study, pork is more of an impulsive purchase than beef or chicken. Therefore, retail pork marketing efforts should include point-of-purchase information and merchandising pieces to impact decision making at the meat case. This is also important because a growing majority of pork is case-ready, and there are typically fewer instore meat cutters available to answer consumer questions about the product. Lead selling items in the fresh meat case at retail have been pork chops, ribs, and roasts. Because of today's consumers' busy lifestyles, many retailers are offering more and more convenience and precooked meat items. These items are typically merchandised near the fresh product. The pegboard section of the retail meat department holds the further-processed products. The lead selling processed items are cured hams, lunchmeats, bacon, and sausage. Processed products are typically sold as fixed-weight items, and fresh products are sold as random-weight items.

Foodservice marketing involves sales to commercial (limited- and full-service restaurants and travel and lodging) and noncommercial (schools, institutional foodservice, and healthcare) segments. These outlets are typically more interested in quality as defined by tenderness, juiciness, and flavor, and they are willing to pay for these quality assurances to guarantee repeat customers. Value-added product offerings are becoming more important to operators as they face labor shortages and food safety pressures. Many products being supplied to foodservice operators are now preseasoned, precooked, or preportioned by the packer or further processor who is supplying the product. Over the last several years, sausage, ham, and bacon have represented over half of the products sold in foodservice outlets. However, the fastest growing products have been ribs and bacon. Consumer trends affecting the foodservice industry include the desire for variety, taste, and experience. Almost half of the consumer food dollar is spent at foodservice outlets, and operators must provide a unique experience for their patrons. Pork fits well into most menus as it can be prepared in a variety of ways as well as in several ethnic dishes.

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