By TIM HEARDEN
A nationwide pork organization will boost its promotional activities next year in an effort to increase struggling producers' bottom line.
The National Pork Board has increased its budget for advertising and other efforts to entice consumers to eat more pork. The board is committing more than $27.7 million to domestic marketing in 2013 and $7.1 million to international marketing, adding about $2 million from last year toward the efforts.
"The key driver for us right now is looking at the current market situation," said Chris Novak, CEO of the Des Moines, Iowa-based pork board. "Additional investment in our marketing efforts is one of those things that can have a positive impact for our producers."
Drought and high feed prices have caused hog producers to suffer losses in late 2012. Producers are projected to lose about $5 per pig on average, which is an improvement over double-digit losses that were projected earlier in the year, Novak said.
Farmers have been heartened by exports that set monthly records in October, as 219,132 metric tons valued at $607 million left the country, according to USDA statistics compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Export volume was 9 percent above last year and value topped the $600 million mark for the first time.
National data show that domestic consumption of fresh pork has been holding steady. In September, the amount spent per U.S. household on pork was the highest of any month since 2004, according to the pork board.
Novak said the pork board will build on the "Pork: Be Inspired" campaign it unveiled last year, pushing the familiar "The Other White Meat" message to the back burner while appealing to what it believed was a healthy new crop of pork lovers.
The organization saw a sharp uptick in the number of consumers who clicked on its online advertisements in the months following the launch.
Novak said the pork board is doing ongoing market research to see how its advertising messages are being received by its "pork champions" -- those consumers identified as being the most likely to eat more pork than the average consumer.
"The bottom line is for those folks who are aware of the 'Pork: Be Inspired' campaign, they are responding positively and they're increasing their purchases of pork," Novak said.
National Pork Board: http://www.pork.org/default.aspx