Consumers have a more positive view of American pork production than producers give themselves credit for. A survey conducted by Eidson & Partners in partnership with Decisive Research Service, shows that 84 percent of consumers feel positive or have no opinion about pork production. When pork producers were surveyed, they predicted that only 35 percent of consumers would feel positive about their livelihood.
The National Pork Board funded this independent survey to gauge consumers’ perception of pork production, how producers think consumers view them and also how producers perceive themselves.
"This research is a good benchmark that shows us the public and producer perceptions," says Craig Christensen, a pork producer from Ogden, Iowa, who serves as vice president of the National Pork Board.
The research shows that consumers have similar positive general feelings about pork, beef and poultry operations. Overall, 58 percent of consumers feel positive about American pork production, 25 percent feel neutral and 16 percent feel negative. Among producers, the research shows an even distribution of expectations for consumers to feel positive, neutral or negative about the industry.
"This research is a real surprise to pork producers, but this research shows consumers still value the role that we play in providing a safe, high quality food while caring for our animals, for the environment and for our local communities," adds Christianson.
Key findings from the consumer surveys indicate that many consumers have no opinion on the issues that pork producers grapple with daily and if they do have an opinion, it’s more likely to be favorable than unfavorable. The vast majority of consumers, 89 percent, don’t recall seeing recent media stories about pork production.
Consumers identified commitment and business sense as pork producers’ most admirable qualities. Thirty-eight percent of consumers surveyed cited hard work and dedication to the land as the most admirable qualities of pork production.
On specific attributes, pork producers expected consumers would rate pork operations as more harmful to the environment than other types of farms. Producers surveyed say they are concerned that consumers know how they care for their animals. Of the consumers surveyed, two thirds were more concerned about good care on poultry operations, as compared to pork, beef or dairy farms.
There was not a significant difference in consumer responses in any state, so there was no difference in whether the consumer lives in a key pork-producing state or another state. There is a difference in how consumers feel about different sizes of pork production operations. Consumers who characterize the typical pork operation as a small or mid-size farm have a more positive view of producers regarding their concern for their animals, for the environment and for the community.
The survey was conducted in three phases in 2002: Pork producer focus groups, pork producer telephone interviews and consumer telephone interviews from key pork producing states and also from other states.
National Pork Board; Iowa Pork Producers Association