Checkoff Helps Berkshire Group Earn USDA Quality Designation

by 5m Editor
22 June 2004, at 12:00am

US - The Pork Checkoff has helped the American Berkshire Association become the first swine breed organization to earn the USDA’s Process Verified Designation.

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“This will help the pork industry expand to meet demand in the United States, Japan and other nations,“ said Pete Hoffman, a Berkshire producer from Ames, Iowa. “It will influence total pork purchases, not just Berkshire purchases.“

The American Berkshire Association’s 100% Pure Berkshire Pork program, which took more than two years to develop, is based on three protocols:

  • All pork under the program label is pure Berkshire pork. The parents of all market animals sold in the program are purebred, pedigreed Berkshire.
  • Each day’s production can be traced back to the farms where the pigs were raised.
  • All pork is produced according to the Pork Checkoff’s Pork Quality AssuranceTM (PQA) Program Level III Good Production Practices guidelines.

All three of these program claims resulted directly from input from Japanese customers. “We wanted to make the program meaningful to customers, as well as possible to do by Berkshire producers who want to get involved,“ Hoffman said.

Japanese consumers typically place a high value on pork from Berkshires, where the breed is known as “kurobuta“ or “black pig.“ However, Japan had limited imports of U.S. Berkshire pork during the last couple years.

“The Japanese pay tremendous premiums for kurobuta, but until now they had no way to verify that what they were buying was pure Berkshire meat,“ Hoffman said. “Now buyers have a program that clearly identifies that the product, and they appreciate this very much.“

Pork producers traveled to Japan in May to introduce the new Process Verified Program to importers, packers, processors, government representatives and retailers.

Both buyers and pork producers agree the timing is right for the 100% Pure Berkshire Pork program. Hoffman said the market has been growing so rapidly that packers can’t meet foreign and domestic demand. “That’s why we’re pleased the Pork Checkoff is helping support a viable niche market that’s Process Verified.“

Source: National Pork Board - 21st June 2004

5m Editor