New vision for pork
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.