Pork is Primed in the Minds of Consumers

Mavis McPhail - Food and Agri-Fibre Specialist, MAFRI

With all that is happening in the pork industry in Manitoba and the corresponding media attention, Manitoba consumers should definitely be thinking 'pork'.

Pork producers in this province are answering the consumer demand for quality, safe pork. As pork producers you are also in a position to ensure that the customer demand for tasty meal solutions is also being answered.

When your customers are asked what they want from the grocery store, their answers may surprise you. Here are some of their comments as they relate to pork.

Where is the Centre of the Plate Anyways?

Meat used to be the centre of the plate. The entire meal was prepared around the meat. Today this is no longer true. One dish meals save on time, dirty dishes and are perceived to be economical. One step rice and sauce combination packages where the customer adds the pork and vegetables or maybe just the pork are being tried. If the meal passes the taste test, you can be sure it will mean repeat purchases.

Hunting for Home Meal Replacements

Customers used to head to the store to purchase a specific meat. Today this is no longer true. Consumers do not go to buy pork, poultry or beef. Consumers do not think pork versus poultry versus beef. They go to buy meals not meal parts. They think pasta versus Big Macs™ versus meals that can be ready in fifteen to thirty minutes. Customers want convenience items. Retailers and processors need to create more home meal replacements with pork if pork is going to provide customers with real meal solutions. Processors need to be reminded when they are developing new pork products that they can not afford to think in terms of meat but rather in terms of meals.

Interacting with Food is Important

Consumers of all ages want more interaction and fun with their foods. Dipping is an interactive behaviour. The demand for appetizers is up. Appetizers not only fit the bill as a fun thing to eat but they are becoming mini meals and home meal replacements. Processors know that many consumers will only order appetizers to get acquainted with a new food that they have never eaten before. Its lower risk. Restaurants are where it all starts.

Sense Appeal

Today's consumers are restaurant spoiled and sophisticated. They want pleasure fast. This creates a market for products that maximize sensory appeal. Highly flavoured and intensely spiced products that use ingredients such as red and black pepper, mustard and ginger are being sought. Pork fits into this profile very nicely. This sense driven demand goes even further than taste. It demands that take home/take out meals look as good as restaurant meals that never 'left the restaurant'.

The opportunities for pork producers in our province have never looked better. By using the consumer information that is available to you, and working with food processors and retailers, the opportunities for your customers, in terms of tasty, ready-to-eat meal solutions featuring pork, can be made to look the same.