More U.S. consumers rate their enjoyment of pork higher than in previous studies, according to new research findings released by the Pork Checkoff.  Also, consumer-buying habits measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 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 pork producer 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.”

The tracking study indicates the size of the Pork Checkoff's consumer target market has grown to 43 percent of U.S. households, up seven points from 36 percent in May 2013, the last time the survey was fielded. 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 - 84 percent at home and 80 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,” Struthers said. “We’re making a distinct difference in the marketplace and in how American consumers view and buy pork.”

Pork Rates an Eight (or Higher) 
Consumers taking part in the recent 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. Survey respondents were representative of the U.S. population for gender, age, ethnicity and income, Struthers noted.

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).

Pork scores high on these key areas, Struthers said. “Across the board, consumers are buying more pork from stores and foodservice outlets, which is great news.”