Consumers will pay more for pork products produced by area farmers. At least that's according to a Wisconsin Pork Producers Association survey. Yes, the poll involved only Wisconsin consumers, but other programs in other states– for example, Minnesota and Indiana– are finding the same responses.

Nearly 80 percent of the consumers polled, say they are willing to pay a little more for Wisconsin-raised pork products. Consumers perceived such products as being higher quality and fresher than other non-area brands of pork. The survey showed that consumers were more likely to purchase Wisconsin pork products if the product carried a label identifying it as Wisconsin-raised.

Of course, what consumers say they'll do and what they really do, often are different things. The key is in the cost. Note that the survey results indicate that consumers are willing to pay "a little more" for local products. Still, these trends are positive signs for niche marketers and the growing trend toward producer-based product cooperatives. Even some genetics companies and packers are looking at tapping this potential. PIC for example, has a program with Marsh grocery stores in Indiana to provide locally grown pork for its high-end meat case.

"We wanted to investigate marketing opportunities available to the Wisconsin pork industry," says Keri Retallick, executive vice president of WPPA. "The responses indicated there are definite opportunities to market this pork to consumers."

The association continues to look throughout the state and the Midwest to find processing plants with the capability to market a minimum of 10 percent of Wisconsin's market-hog supply. "The next hurdle is to ensure availability of consistent, quality processing of market hogs," says Retallick.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association.