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Economists Review Trends Affecting the Pork Checkoff

Economists Review Trends Affecting the Pork Checkoff
Analysis is part of the National Pork Board's strategic planning initiative

As the National Pork Board sets its course for 2015 through 2020, the organization's strategic planning task force was recently presented an analysis of top trends in the economic and food production environment that are most likely to impact the Pork Checkoff program.

The analysis is part of the National Pork Board's strategic planning initiative. The task force met for the first time in December.

According to Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board, the overarching goal is to review the role the Pork Checkoff's role in a changing environment.

INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY: More pigs per litter and higher average market weights offer an immediate 2.6% increase in the amount of pork entering the market, economists say.

Novak says the review will pay special attention to consumer needs regarding food safety and transparency, and producer needs in animal care and environmental protection.

Economists reviewing the checkoff – Dr. Daniel Sumner of the University of California at Davis, and Dr. Steve Meyer, Paragon Economics – identified the following trends as critical to address:

Increased consumption of U.S. pork. U.S. pork consumption is at a 10-year high and only expected to increase. It is outpacing sales of all meat products.

Growth in emerging markets. About 75% of U.S. pork is consumed domestically, but Asia presents a growth market as incomes are forecast to rise and the middle class is expected to grow.

Pigs per litter and average market hog weights increasing. Increased productivity creates an immediate 2.6% increase in the amount of pork entering the market.

Food safety and farm practice issues will gain in importance globally. Foodservice firms and other retailers are showing a strong interest in understanding farm practices and encouraging farmers to meet the demands of opinion leaders.

For members of the task force, the strategic planning process will be centered on asking a simple question: "What if?" The question is designed to push the imagination about what the industry could be.

"In 2009, we set a vision for an industry that was responsible, sustainable, professional and profitable. We set goals to protect a farmer's freedom to operate, to reposition fresh pork with consumers and to make U.S. pork producers more competitive in the global marketplace," Novak said.

He added that the industry will need to acknowledge that the issues and challenges facing producers are no longer only producer issues, but rather affect the entire pork chain.

"Recognizing this new reality, and finding a way to align our interests with retailers, foodservice companies and packers will be critical to our long-term success," Novak said. "Progress is good and momentum important, but a vision to challenge the status quo is most critical."

Throughout 2014, the Pork Checkoff and the food industry leaders comprising its strategic planning task force will review research, market data and the opinions of agriculture's top economists and other experts in an effort to set a strategic vision to carry the organization from 2015 through 2020.

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