Introduction

Market hogs and pork products are marketed and distributed over a complex pathway to customers and consumers in the United States and overseas. This article will attempt to outline some of those pathways. In addition, attention will be given to consumer attitudes about pork and some of the marketing programs that address these attitudes. Swine and pork marketing in the United States has historically been a commodity business. Pork producers have raised commodity hogs for commodity packers who provided commodity products for commodity markets. In the last few years, there has been a genuine paradigm shift in the pork industry toward production and marketing of a quality product. This shift began in 1991 with a dramatic shift to a very lean, heavily muscled hog in response to consumer demands for leaner meat. At the same time, the industry saw a shift to case-ready products with the advent of superior packaging and packaging technology. With the move toward case-ready products, there has been a lateral move toward branding, which has promoted the interest in pork quality. Retailers, packers, and further processors become very interested in quality and uniformity when their name is on the product.

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