New vi­sion for pork

South Waikato News - - DELIVERY - By JON MOR­GAN

Who’d be a pig farmer? You pro­duce the tasti­est, most evoca­tive meat in the world, but noone wants to live next door to you.

They call you stinky and claim you’re cruel to your an­i­mals.

You’re be­ing un­der­mined by cheap im­ports and your own gov­ern­ment has ex­posed you to be­ing wiped out by a ter­ri­ble dis­ease.

Your last haven of com­fort is your in­dus­try’s an­nual con­fer­ence.

But then . . . oh, no! That last bas­tion falls.

You could have heard a pin drop as Greg Part­ing­ton, the mar­keter brought in to give the in­dus­try a boost, re­vealed to shocked farm­ers meet­ing in Welling­ton what the pub­lic re­ally thought of their prod­uct.

Hard to cook, fatty, un­clean. “Pork failed to rate on all of the pos­i­tive mea­sures.”

Up till then the farm­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the 212 pig­geries left af­ter decades of re­treat un­der in­creas­ingly pre­scrip­tive reg­u­la­tions, had been treated to a suc­ces­sion of up­beat speeches.

Their chair­man, Ian Carter, had told them they were mem­bers of “the best lit­tle pig in­dus­try in the world”.

“We’re lit­tle but we’re in­no­va­tive and if we all keep work­ing along­side stake­hold­ers we can make it hap­pen,” he said.

Then Waikato Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Jac­que­line Rowarth said she was de­lighted to in­form them they were food pro­duc­ers “par ex­cel­lence”, far more tech­ni­cally ad­vanced than grass farm­ers.

Aus­tralian pork in­dus­try mar­keter Peter Hay­don was next, ex­plain­ing how he had lifted grow­ers’ re­turns via a se­ries of TV ads with the com­mon theme of play­ing on Aussies’ sense of crude fun, sim­i­lar to our own, ex­tolling the ben­e­fits of get­ting “porked”.

Af­ter lunch – pork, of course – the farm­ers set­tled back, ex­pect­ing to hear more of the same from their own mar­keter. But Part­ing­ton shook them out of their tor­por.

His sur­vey of 600 peo­ple started by ask­ing peo­ple what they had for din­ner.

Mon­day night was chicken, Tues­day beef, Wed­nes­day mince, Thurs­day sausages, Fri­day fish, Satur­day a meat sub­sti­tute and Sun­day was pork.

Ques­tioned more closely, 42 per cent said pork was dif­fi­cult to cook, 63 per cent said it was fatty and 46 per cent thought it was un­clean.

For ev­ery­day eat­ing, pork was just 3 per cent of meals. Cook­ing con­fi­dence was low, the least of all the meats. So, how to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear?

Part­ing­ton was blunt. “We need to to­tally dis­rupt shop­pers as they de­cide to buy pro­tein.”

Ear­lier, he had shown a film of shop­pers’ re­ac­tions to tasting pork schnitzel and loin in su­per­mar­ket cook­ing demon­stra­tions. Sales of the two cuts rose 20 per cent after­wards.

He con­jured up a vi­sion of a hot­plate siz­zling away in ev­ery su­per­mar­ket in the coun­try and shop­pers be­ing way­laid by aproned mar­keters bran­dish­ing tooth­picked sliv­ers of pork.

That put a smile back on the farm­ers’ faces.

IN­DUS­TRY: Pork failed to rate.

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