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    Fresh Meat Trends: Hy-Vee’s High-on-the-Hog Pork Sales

    Low retail prices, combined with aggressive promotions, have boosted pork sales at Hy-Vee to record levels for 2009, according to officials from the West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer.

    Low retail prices, combined with aggressive promotions, have boosted pork sales at Hy-Vee to record levels for 2009, according to officials from the West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer.

    In the waning days of a major promotion during its October commemoration of National Pork Month, Hy-Vee’s pork sales were up more than 25 percent over October 2008 and were on track to increase pork tonnage by more than 30 percent, said Kenan Judge, AVP of meat operations for the employee-owned independent.

    “With pork prices the lowest they’ve been in more than a decade, we’ve focused our marketing efforts on promoting pork as a great value for consumers,” explained Judge. “Today’s shopper is looking for nutritious, economical meal ideas, and pork perfectly fits the bill.”

    With lower pork prices trending as a result of a depressed market caused by declining exports and higher-than-expected production, Judge acknowledged, “The pork industry is really struggling right now. When we advertise pork specials and pass along the savings to customers, we’re helping increase demand for pork, which benefits the pork producer.”

    Hy-Vee, which operates 227 retail stores in seven Midwestern states, has worked closely with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, Farm Bureau, Hormel and other supplier partners to identify the best values available on pork products, and promote those values to customers. The pork industry groups have helped by providing point-of-sale marketing materials for stores and assisting with special events designed to create excitement and raise awareness of the plight of pork producers in the current economy.

    One such event was the Great Iowa Pork Crusade, sponsored by Hy-Vee and WHO radio in Des Moines, which partnered to distribute $20,000 worth of certificates for free pork during a weeklong campaign. The pork industry also teamed with Hy-Vee for “Chops for Charity,” a fundraiser that sold more than 3,000 barbecued pork loin sandwiches to benefit Variety — The Children’s Charity.

    Over the fall, Hy-Vee’s weekly ads have featured special buys such as pork steaks for 99 cents a pound, and buy-one-get-one-free deals on pork chops. The current ad celebrating National Pork Month includes an entire page of pork items on sale — pork shoulder roasts, butterfly chops, boneless pork loins, ribs, ground pork patties, premium cut bacon and more. “Some of these retail prices are the lowest I can ever remember offering,” Judge said. “They represent significant savings to the consumer, and our customers are responding by buying record amounts of pork.”

    Judge said Hy-Vee plans to continue promoting pork well beyond Pork Month. “As long as we can provide great values for customers and help our nation’s pork producers, we’re going to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.

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