The Best Way to Predict Your Future is to Create It

by 5m Editor
29 May 2008, at 3:19pm

Farmers at this year's Pig and Poultry Fair in the UK were tested over whether they believed the current market practices could deliver a sustainable future.

"We are now at a critical crossroads for the future of UK Pork Production, with unprecedented raw material prices and finally some retail price inflation, I believe the time has come for our industry to start making some positive decisions," says Rick Sanderson, PIC Pork Chain Business Development Manager.

Mr Sanderson questioned whether the focus should be solely on offering the customer a low-cost product that fits the supermarkets 'Every Day Lower Price' culture?

He also asked whether they should embrace the trend for Premiumisation and really focus on delivering a superior eating product?

Rick Sanderson, PIC Pork Chain Business Development Manager
"I believe the current path to market will not deliver us a sustainable future but what does the farmer think? At this year's Pig & Poultry Fair, we put this to the test," said Mr Sanderson.

"At PIC we have worked hard in the last two years focusing our products on specific markets having conducted our own consumer research.

"When asking consumers what the drivers of purchase were, we were pleased to find that the price of the product was only 4th in the list of priorities, with attributes such as colour, leanness and texture heading the list. This gives us great encouragement as a breeding company as we know that we can influence all of these traits through genetic improvement.

"The direction we take at these crossroads presents two key challenges; Will the consumer pay for a more premium product under the current economic climate and , more critically, can the British Farmer survive if he tries to compete on cost with the cheaper foreign imports?

At this year's Pig and Poultry Fair, PIC asked the farmers which direction they supported.

The genetics company devised a novel voting system, which was a popular central feature of the PIC stand.

PIC voting sphere at the Pig and Poultry Fair
"We asked farmers to place a red ball in the glass sphere for Meat Quality or a white ball for Cost of Production," said Mr Sanderson.

"Given today's economic pressures on our industry, it was surprising and extremely encouraging to see that just over 50 per cent of our farmers voted in favour of a Meat Quality focused UK Pork. They have faith in producing a quality product and if only the premium was available they would invest in this future.

"If we are going to produce this meat quality animal, how much of it will the UK consumer actually want to buy? There are some really exciting opportunities waiting to be explored to make pork more relevant to the UK consumer, as well as combating the biggest issue we have in terms of carcass utilisation."

PIC showcased a unique presentation using supermarket loyalty card data, which demonstrated these utilisation issues. For example, pork shoulder represents 33.5 per cent of the carcase in meat terms yet only 0.5 per cent of all supermarket consumers had purchased fresh pork shoulder in the past two years.

Likewise, just 2.5 per cent of these consumers had bought fresh pork belly, which along with the shoulder accounts for 50 per cent of all the meat on the carcase.

With the current weakness of the pound. Mr Sanderson said that this offer export opportunities for these cuts.

"However, as we have seen these past five years, this market is not always attractive or available. We must be innovative and in doing so, create products that fit the consumer need for ease of cook, short preparation times and provenance. We have highlighted products such as pork burgers, meat balls for pasta, pork ribs for BBQ and roasts and so the list goes on. These all come from 'unfashionable' cuts of the pig yet would add real value to the consumer," he said.

"So, the industry is full of ideas and ambition to take a new direction and help create a more sustainable future, based on real consumer demand and a product we can be proud of!"

5m Editor