Though the National Pork Board five years ago set a goal for 10% growth in real per capita consumer expenditures for pork, it has soared past that goal with consumer expenditures growing 15.7% since 2009.
Pork expenditures – the product of total pork volume available in the U.S. multiplied by the average U.S. Department of Agriculture retail pork price – grew by 7.6% in 2014 from just the previous year.
"2014 was a fantastic year of growth for the pork industry," said National Pork Board President Dale Norton. "Pork expenditures directly correlate to consumer demand. Despite record high prices, demand grew and was even higher than expected."
Overall, there was less pork to sell due to the impact of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, he said, so growth in the second half of the year came largely from higher pork prices.
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The inventory of both breeding herds and the stock of pigs bound for market increased. As of year-end 2014, total U.S. pig inventory increased 2% to 66.1 million head over 2013, marking a solid rebound.
"So far, this winter has been relatively mild for PEDV cases and pig inventory is strong," Norton said. "But barring any recurrence of the virus, we should see more pork enter the market in the second half of 2015."
Norton added that this may require adjusting the Pork Checkoff's marketing plan to balance any potential increase in product hitting the consumer market. An influx supply of pork could lower consumer prices at the meat counter, but likewise may lower producer revenue.
'Be Inspired' pork marketing campaign impacts
In 2014, the National Pork Board centered its consumer messaging on pork's inspiration as a menu item and for creative home meals. Marketing of pork directly reached consumers, as well as engaged foodservice and retail decision-makers, NPB said.
• National Advertising: The yearlong national print, TV and digital advertising campaign included 49 print ad insertions, 10 weeks of cable TV and 18 digital media partners.
• Retail Marketing: National retail promotions with the top 10 retailers efficiently contributed to demand growth, costing only five cents per incremental pound of pork sold.
• State Association Marketing: Cooperative advertising between the National Pork Board and state pork associations led to more alignment and effective results. In 2014, 19 state associations participated in a cooperative advertising buy.
• Multicultural Marketing: According to the U.S. Census, approximately 92% of population growth in the United States from 2000 to 2010 can be attributed to multicultural audiences who have a combined purchasing power estimated at $3 trillion. The National Pork Board added multicultural outreach to its marketing plans in 2013. Advertising and public relations efforts aimed at diverse audiences were expanded in 2014 and a comprehensive communications plan was developed to guide the Pork Checkoff into the future.
"The pork expenditure results offer solid insight into what we view as a consistently growing consumer demand for pork," said Ceci Snyder, vice president of domestic marketing for the Pork Checkoff. "Despite record-high pork prices, demand for pork has increased. As we head into a year of higher supplies, we need to constantly remind consumers of pork's unique combination of flavor and versatility."
A new television advertising campaign will debut in May and will build on new market research. The Pork Checkoff will measure consumer response to the new ads through tracking studies in the months ahead.