With many producers feeling the pressure of hard times, the Pork Checkoff program is supporting the industry to build demand, move more pork and raise a better product. "The pork checkoff is helping producers work together to build a stronger industry,” said Steve Murphy, chief executive officer for the National Pork Board.

The checkoff works hard to support the success of pork exports which marked the 16th consecutive record year in 2007. The first quarter of 2008 exports were valued at more than $1 billion. "One in every four pounds of pork now traded originates from the U.S.," said Murphy. 

Checkoff also focuses on domestic marketing by promoting pork at home. The Other White Meat Tour celebrates pork's positive benefits with target consumers through cooking demonstrations, product sampling and one-on-one interactions.  The tour will be stopping at 23 consumer events across the U.S. that reach a large percentage of the pork’s target audience, females 25-49 years old who have children at home and want to be better cooks.

"A total of 250 million pounds of pork have been sold as a result of checkoff retail programs during the first and second quarter," said Murphy.  "Of that, 52 million pounds are incremental increases compared to the same time period last year."

Getting more pork on menus continues to be a focus for checkoff funds. Efforts include grilled breakfast sandwiches at 1,000 Panera Bread locations to a new Butcher's Block line of fresh and frozen pork at 77 Sysco distribution centers.

The National Pork Board has responsibility for checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. To fund checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. The program funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management.

The checkoff is working to meet producers' expectations by focusing on input resources. During this profitability challenge, the checkoff has compiled several resources to assist producers.  The checkoff created Practical Ideas to Address High Feeds and Production Costs, a list of management tips and resources to assist producers in identifying opportunities to increase efficiencies and reduce cost.

"The CME Group, pork checkoff and state pork associations have come together to develop risk-management webinars,'" said Murphy.  "These online, interactive presentations give producers direct access to industry professionals.

For information on checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the pork checkoff service center at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at www.pork.org.

Source: NPB