The pork industry needs to “move at the speed of business,” says Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board. During the Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City, Mo. this week, Even addressed producer-delegates during the annual meeting and spoke to media in a press conference following the meeting.
Farmers who raise pigs are businesspeople, and the industry needs to be ahead of the curve to enhance and positively impact its outlook.
At a press conference on Thursday, Even discussed six key areas that will receive emphasis in 2018.
1. Emphasis on domestic marketing: The domestic marketing team will engage in research, outreach and especially the WeCare 2.0 program to help make members of the food chain more aware of production practices. He announced during the meeting earlier on Thursday that American consumers buy fresh pork loin cuts, on average, 6.2 times per year based on Nielsen research that tracks point-of-purchase sales at retail. That’s a number that needs to change, Even says.
“If half of fresh pork buyers (those already buying fresh pork) bought one more time per year, it would be worth over $400 million in revenue,” Even says.
2. State collaboration: “Together we’ll be stronger,” Even says. State organizations have experienced, creative staff members. The national organization is involving state staff in strategic planning and Even says “it’s gone over really well.”
3. Communications: More needs to be done to drive the power to tell pork’s story, Even notes. He says the communications staff at the National Pork Board is focused on a “digital-first mindset. “We want to make sure our information is current, crisp, timely and actionable,” Even says. “We need to understand what everyone else is talking about in society.” He adds that the industry needs to meet consumers on their own terms instead of trying to drive them to what the industry wants to talk about.
4. Marketing: Key players in the meat chain need to know what U.S. pork has to offer, Even stresses. The 2018 World Meat Congress will be held in Dallas, Tex., this year, and it will be a great opportunity to showcase U.S. pork. About 1,000 people from all over the world will be in attendance and NPB is a sponsor. “This meeting is “critically important especially with high trade tensions. We want to make sure we don’t lose pork’s pole position,” Even says.
5. Sustainability and We Care: The organization is committed to learning what other groups think about the industry in terms of sustainability. While knowledge about We Care is very high by producers, the rest of the supply chain has limited knowledge of the program. Even says they’re “asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of listening to non-governmental organizations, the supply chain and consumers. “I’m excited that the boards of both organizations (National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council) see this as a priority.
6. Technology: “The speed at which technology comes at us is scary, but we’re on the cusp of being able to do some fantastic things,” Even says. He says the industry will maintain its competitive edge by keeping up on technology and embracing what it can offer, particularly in the areas of trade, transparency and traceability.