Results of a consumer tracking study conducted in June and released by the Pork Checkoff found that more American consumers are reporting an enduring love for pork. Key research findings show more U.S. consumers rate their enjoyment of pork higher than in previous studies. Also, consumer-buying habits measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture also show more consumers are buying pork.

"People are becoming more passionate about their consumption of pork," said Iowa Pork Producers Association President-elect David Struthers, a hog farmer from Collins. "These studies confirm that consumers are eating more pork in recipes and as a menu item because of its value, flavor and versatility."

Consumers taking part in the Pork Checkoff study were asked to rate pork cuts on a 10-point scale, resulting in a demonstrated increase in the volume of consumers who rank pork as an eight or higher.

The tracking study indicates the size of the Pork Checkoff's consumer target market has grown to 45 percent of U.S. households, up from 36 percent in June 2013. In 2010, the consumer target was just 27 percent of U.S. households. Growth in the target size is attributed to people rating pork cuts higher, as well as their confidence in cooking meat.

The study also found that a majority of all fresh pork eaten - 86 percent at home and 77 percent away from home - is consumed by consumers in the Pork Checkoff's target market. The total percent of pork eaten by the consumers grew significantly since the Pork Be Inspired® campaign was introduced in 2011.

"The industry is beginning to see the impact of new marketing campaigns. We're making a distinct difference in the marketplace and in how American consumers view and buy pork," Struthers said. "Across the board, consumers are buying more pork from stores and foodservice outlets."

The tracking study results are further reinforced by the Pork Checkoff's key measure of domestic marketing, which is real per capita consumer pork expenditures. Using USDA data, consumer pork expenditures measure the volume (in pounds) and value (in dollars) of pork sold in the United States. Data through May 2014 showed year-to-date per capita pork expenditures grew by 7.5 percent.

The consumer tracking study also asked pork eaters, "Other than price, what most influences your meat-purchasing decisions?" The top three drivers of meat purchases are quality (63 percent), followed by appearance (50 percent) and convenience (32 percent). 

The nationally fielded tracking study is conducted by the Pork Checkoff in June and November each calendar year. Respondents are representative of the U.S. population for gender, age, ethnicity and income.