DES MOINES, IOWA – Having adopted a new five-year strategic plan only months ago, the National Pork Board is currently busy implementing the plan's vision, National Pork Board President Tim Bierman told reporters on June 9 at World Pork Expo in Des Moines.

"Through the Pork Checkoff, we've set our sights on ‘Leading a World-Class Food Industry,’ and I'm already beginning to see some evidence of making that happen," said Bierman, a pork producer from Larrabee, Iowa. "If you look at the three areas of focus in that plan — helping farmers produce hogs in a socially responsible manner, refreshing the image of pork to increase consumer demand and pursuing strategies to remain competitive globally — you can see some of the specific steps to implement the plan and its vision."

Industry's “We Care” initiative is helping pork producers demonstrate their commitment to socially responsible production, Bierman said. One of the most visible ways pork producers do that is through the Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification program, he added.

"PQA Plus helps assure the world we're producing a safe and wholesome product and incorporates animal care and well-being principles,” Bierman said. “PQA Plus was introduced three years ago at World Pork Expo, and I am proud to announce that we are very close to having 50,000 producers certified by June 30. It's quite a remarkable achievement and demonstrates the commitment producers make each day to producing safe food in a responsible way.

"We still have some work to do because we've set some ambitious goals to complete site assessments of all our farms by the end of this year," he added. "But I am proud of my fellow producers' commitment to this important program."

Much progress is also being made toward the goal of refreshing and repositioning the pork brand, said Ceci Snyder, the Pork Checkoff's vice president of domestic marketing.

"We have just finished the early stages of our consumer research, and one insight I can share is that pork lovers see the world as full of possibilities," Snyder said. "One not surprising finding is that The Other White Meat is certainly well-known. But we have also found that it is so familiar that it blends into the background. It's not motivating our customers to buy more pork.

"How the Other White Meat factors into our new brand position is still being explored," she added. "We know for certain that we will protect the Other White Meat's important heritage both in marketing and legally."

Based on consumer research, the new target audience is likely to be consumers who already are medium to heavy pork users, Snyder said. Members of the target audience also are more likely to be women who are married and have children.

The Pork Checkoff will continue to advertise pork between now and the end of the year, but it will be "transitional" advertising and not the new brand position, Snyder noted. "Between now and next March at Pork Forum, when we'll be ready to show you the brand evolution, some of the advertising and marketing materials you'll see will feature the pork logo with the word ‘pork’ only, along with,’" she added.

Additional consumer research is planned this summer and there likely will be a test of the new brand position with a target audience this fall.

Bierman also announced the launch of the redesigned Web site. The site, designed to deliver Pork Checkoff information to producers, went "live" on June 7.