The pork industry has recorded seventeen years of consecutive record growth through 2008 and the achievement has required teamwork. With the U.S. pork industry exporting almost 25 percent of its total production in 2008, Chris Novak, National Pork Board chief executive officer says the performance of U.S. pork in international markets is high on the list of discussion topics. Novak feels pork producers are more in tune than ever to the importance of exports to their bottom line.
Novak is quick to point out that this rapid growth in export markets has not simply happened on its own. He emphasizes that cooperative efforts by all sectors of the pork industry have been essential to increasing the presence of U.S. pork in the global marketplace. In particular, Novak views the constructive working relationship between the NPB, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the National Pork Producers Council as an important element behind the industry’s success.
“When you look back to the early 1990s when the U.S. was a net importer of pork and compare that with today, when we export one out of every four hogs, our industry has grown from just under 80 million hogs to 116 million hogs produced last year,” Novak said. “That growth in our industry has come about as a result of the demand that we have seen in exports.”
“The ‘three-legged stool’ that we have with USMEF, NPPC and the pork checkoff has been absolutely critical to ensuring that we have continued growth for pork exports,” Novak said. “I truly believe that the reason we have had 17 consecutive years of growth in our exports is that we have USMEF doing market education, consumer promotion and chain partner activities in our key international markets, and because of the work that is done on the trade policy side to ensure that we have market access. The Pork Board’s role has been the investment of checkoff dollars - not only to fund these promotional activities, but also to bring the science to the table that has been essential to overcoming many trade barriers.
“The need for a clear and integrated strategy has never been greater. If promotion and marketing activities are done in a vacuum without market access and sound trade policy, they’re not going to accomplish nearly as much as when we have connected those pieces,” Novak said. “So, maintaining the partnership that exists today between USMEF, the National Pork Board and NPPC certainly is one of my greatest priorities.”