Last week, I attended the annual meetings for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the National Pork Board (NPB) in Orlando, Fla. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends, meet new ones, and listen to leaders from both groups discuss their priorities for the industry.

The Pork Board took $3 million from its reserve funds to supplement the 2013 domestic marketing budget this summer. Ceci Snyder, the Checkoff's vice president of domestic marketing, says the additional funds will help NPB communicate the value of pork chops compared to beef steak, educate the public on new pork-cut name changes, and reinforce the USDA temperature change and range of doneness.

“We've learned from consumers that people who like meat cooked to a medium temperature may still overcook pork,” says Snyder. “Our pork lovers have discovered that if you cook your pork like a steak, you end up with a tender and juicy product that offers great taste and flavor."

Recent market constraints on the international front may slow export sales this year, so bolstering domestic sales makes sense. “There is a correlation between what we spend and consumer recall of our ads,” says Snyder. “Those who are aware of our marketing efforts report better attitudes about pork versus those who have not. It’s an ideal time to ‘inspire’ our consumers and steal market share.”

The domestic market is still 75 percent of U.S. pork sales, and despite challenges, the NPB budget is stable, according to Dale Norton, a pork producer from Michigan who serves as treasurer of the board.

“We’ve continued to experience wide fluctuation, where planning and budgeting is a challenge,” says Norton. “The board evaluates the long-term financial position of our organization to provide long-term spending. All programming and tactics must be within the confines of our five-year plan.”