Mealtime Blahs? Try Pork!

Innovative pork products spice up consumers’ tables.
There’s never a dull moment in the pork industry – just ask executives at the National Pork Board (NPB), Des Moines, IA.
“Don’t be blah.™,” NPB’s new national marketing campaign, targets busy urban women -- many with children under 17 at home – who, relays 2004 NPB research, “aspire to be better cooks, but lack inspiration and confidence.” Launched in February, 2005, the campaign is already yielding positive results in test markets in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, and Sacramento.
“Pork. The Other White Meat, which repositioned the meat as a healthy protein source, has become synonymous with pork in the seventeen years since it was introduced,” says Steve Murphy, chief executive officer of NPB. “Don’t be blah. is our new rallying cry for pork. It’s the ultimate solution for dinner decision-makers to escape their recipe rut.”
As consumer awareness of pork as an everyday meal alternative grows, picks for NPB’s fourth annual Consumer’s Choice Pork Awards suggest that convenience, versatility, and flavor appeal top consumer demands for new pork products.
Winners of the 2005 contest include Johnsonville Heat and Serve Mild Italian Sausage, Iowa Quality Meats Prime Rib Roast, Tyson Vegetables and Pork Roast Butt, Hormel Southwestern Pork Carnitas, and Hormel Pork Chops and Gravy. Each received the Golden Fork trophy and earned the right to use the official Consumer’s Choice Pork Awards winner’s seal in merchandising efforts.
Annual Pork Forecasts
  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Production (millions lb.)19,13819,66419,94520,50920,69620,940
Per capita consumption (retail lb.)*50.251.551.851.350.1 49.8
Exports (millions lb.)1,5601,6111,7172,1792,5452,745
Imports (millions lb.)9511,0701,1851,0991,0151,020
*Per capita meat consumption data are revised, incorporating a new population series from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis based on the 2000 Census.
Source: World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Supporting Materials
Published in Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ldp/
“This Checkoff-funded contest recognizes the most innovative new pork products through an open nominations process, with consumers judging the winning products,” explains Steve Schmeichel, a pork producer from Hurley, SD, and chairman of NPB’s Demand Enhancement Committee. “The winning products fit will into people’s lifestyles, adding variety and great taste. This year’s entries really exemplify the industry’s effort to provide products with the consumer in mind. The nominations mirror today’s food trends, with a desire for convenience, unique flavors, and quality products.”
New to the Consumer’s Choice Awards was the Esteemed Trendsetters Awards, whose winners exhibited unique and innovative approaches to product development. The 2005 Esteemed Trendsetter Award winners are Spa Cuisine from Lean Cuisine Pork with Cherry Sauce, Iowa Quality Meats Fully Cooked Pork Drummies, and Farmland Nutrition Wise Fresh Pack “This new honor – the esteemed Trendsetters Awards – allows for additional recognition for innovative products and their contribution to the industry,” says Schmeichel.
Made with 100-percent fiber-filled whole grains, the Spa Cuisine Trendsetters Award winner was one of a new line of products inspired by chefs from wellness spas across the country, for example. Found in the freezer and ready in minutes, Spa Cuisine entrées contain fewer than 300 calories, 8 grams or less of fat, and provide 100-percent whole grain rice or pasta in every meal.
“The just-released food guidelines [released by the USDA in January] encourage half of your servings of grains to come from whole grains. Spa Cuisine is an easy way for women to include more whole grains in their diet,” says Brett White, director of marketing for Lean Cuisine.
In addition to product and promotion accomplishments, NPB’s Murphy also noted that U.S. pork exports continue to be a huge success story for pork producers. “Exports grew by twenty-seven percent in 2004 and are on pace in 2005 to eclipse that growth,” he says. “Net pork exports for January through March 2005 were 2.7 percent higher than the same period one year ago and are responsible for an estimated 14 percent increase in live hog prices for the first quarter of 2005.” NP