Following more than a year of planning and development, the National Pork Board on November 3 released its new strategic plan focused on anticipating and managing the changing world facing U.S. pork producers now and in the future. The plan, to be implemented starting in January 2015, will be in place through 2020 to guide the organization.
Rooted in collaboration between industry and supply chain partners, the new National Pork Board vision is to elevate U.S. pork as the global protein of choice by continuously and cooperatively working to do what’s right for people, pigs and the planet.
“It’s a plan sharply focused on a vision for the future of America’s pork producers. It defines in clear, customer-centered language a set of objectives focused on results,” said Dale Norton, Pork Checkoff president and a pork producer from Bronson, Michigan. “Our task force, which included pork producers and representatives from allied industries, defined a commitment to leverage industry and supply chain collaboration to achieve the vision.”
During 2014, the task force met several times, analyzing and discussing economic forecasts and research collected from pork producers, protein processors, foodservice operators, retailers and consumers. Unlike the previous strategic plan, this new effort is more customer-centric, with a commitment to transparency and continuous improvement.
“In the planning process, we connected with customers and consumers. We heard their desire to better understand and have dialogue about U.S. pig farming,” Norton said. “The resulting commitment to greater transparency and collaboration takes on a whole new focus and priority in this plan.”
The task force set three distinct goals to drive National Pork Board performance. The goals, supported by a total of 17 specific and measurable objectives, include:
- Build Consumer Trust – Working collaboratively with food chain partners, the National Pork Board will enhance consumer trust in modern pork production by promoting producer adoption of on-farm management practices that reflect the industry’s ethical principles and by sharing its commitment to continuous improvement with consumers and key stakeholders.
- Drive Sustainable Production – The National Pork Board will invest in research and producer education programs that enhance pork productivity and sustainability of pork production and deliver benefits to producers, their communities and consumers.
- Grow Consumer Demand – Working in concert with food chain partners, the National Pork Board will grow domestic and international consumer demand by focusing on pork’s improved nutrition, quality and sustainability.
Norton said the process also involved a thorough analysis of the domestic and global marketplace, including issues such as animal disease and welfare, food safety, nutrition, economics and the reputation of modern agriculture.
“Viewed collectively, the plan gives us a clear path for moving boldly from where we are now to where we want to be in the future,” Norton said. “We have our big-picture vision for the future and a collaborative blueprint for getting there together as an industry.”
Two additional priorities emerged during the planning task force’s meetings and discussions: clearly addressing the growing global need for pork and shaping the social responsibility commitment of the Pork Checkoff. Toward that end, the duties of two positions were expanded and elevated, with Becca Hendricks named as vice president of international marketing, and Jarrod Sutton named vice president of social responsibility.
“The concerns of our partners in both the international marketplace and the U.S. retail and foodservice arena need to be addressed,” said John Johnson, chief operating officer of the National Pork Board. “Food retailers’ growing interest in production practices and our pig farmers’ social license to operate have an increasing impact on the farm. While, as an industry, we perform well – anchored by our ethical principles – we are continuously striving to improve.”
The National Pork Board will make an increased effort over the next five years to demonstrate this improvement by sharing information with consumers and senior management of retail and foodservice companies, including directors of global supply chains and corporate sustainability officers.
“International markets continue to grow in their importance to the U.S. pork industry. Today, 28 percent of our pork production is marketed internationally,” Johnson said. “With rising incomes in the developing world and pork’s current position as the No. 1 source of animal protein worldwide, international trade requires a higher profile within our programs.”
“In the end, it’s all about helping ensure the long-term success of America’s hog farmers and their families,” Norton said. “This plan taps into the emotional connections consumers have with their food and fuels a fresh dialogue about modern pork production and continuous improvement for the benefit of people, pigs and the planet, while continuing pork’s role as the global animal protein of choice.”