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Driving Pork Value Through Segmentation

Patrick Fleming

Meatingplace July
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Pork is a wonderful protein choice for consumers; it’s flavorful, healthy and affordable. For packer/processors and retailers, pork offers an opportunity to drive additional sales and dollars at the meat case if we follow the example set by beef and chicken.

There are two big trends propelling sales and incremental dollars in meat: premiumization and attribute claim programs. Both trends are on display in the beef and poultry categories. Beef sales have been built on providing consumers with many choices like quality grades, breed programs from Angus to Wagyu and production claims such as organic, never ever for added hormones/antibiotics and grass-fed.

In poultry, segmentation occurs via claims like no antibiotics, air chilled or heritage breeds, cage-free or pasture-raised. So while beef and chicken have used claims to define, differentiate and give consumers a choice to value up over a commodity product, fresh pork offerings are still mostly commodity. The opportunity to develop segmentation inside of pork to maximize value in dollar sales comes at a perfect time.


So, let’s talk about premiumization. Pork programs that are built on high pH, darker color and increased marbling are a step up from commodity and they provide the customer with a better, more consistent eating experience that consumers have demonstrated they are willing to pay more for. Quality pork offerings also balance the selection across species in the meat case: It’s better when consumers have more choices. Customers looking for higher quality beef offerings who are willing to pay for them should be offered a companion program in pork.

Pork also can differentiate using breed programs like Duroc or Berkshire. With consistent marketing, breed programs can be developed to offer the consumer recognized quality like Angus or Wagyu. This tied with the higher quality attributes will give pork an opportunity to segment to drive additional dollar sales and consumer satisfaction.

Attribute Claims

The pork category can also differentiate to target engaged attribute shoppers, that segment of customers who want to know where their food comes from. These consumers want to know the story of pork, how the pigs were raised, what they were fed, how they were sheltered and if a real farmer cared for them. Attributes like never any antibiotics, no added hormones, stall-free, social pen housing, vegetarian-fed and traceable back to the farm of production give the engaged consumer confidence in their pork purchase. It also builds consumer trust, which leads to brand and retailer loyalty. The backstory and attributes provide this customer with a product they are willing to pay more for.

Consumers have demonstrated they are looking for high-quality selections in the meat case and production attributes across species. To effectively seize this opportunity, segmentation of the pork case will need three factors for success:

  1. Consumer communication that clearly conveys the quality and/or production claim features of upper tier products and corresponding consumer benefits
  2. A pricing and promotional strategy that maintains margin and pricing structure with the commodity offering
  3. Consistent marketing support to differentiate the selection, re-enforce the program benefits and demonstrate consumer value

Adding additional segments to commodity pork offerings can be an effective driver in both pound and dollar sales for the pork category. It’s time that pork joined beef and chicken in the segmentation space.


About the Author

With his plethora of knowledge of all things pork, you might say that Patrick Fleming is a modern-day “Pork Yoda.” He has held a number of key positions in the industry, including area business manager at Johnsonville®, Western Regional Sales Manager at Laura’s™ Lean Beef and Director of Marketing at the National Pork Board. Before coming to Midan, Patrick played a key role in updating pork nomenclature by bringing in beef terminology and simplifying labels for consumers. Now, he provides strategic outlook and supervision of branded pork programs, securing distribution and brand development. Patrick earned a bachelor’s in political science from Arizona State University and a master’s in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. When not revolutionizing the U.S. pork industry, Patrick enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with family.
Patrick Fleming