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    Retailers Have Chance to Help Shoppers Take The Pork Plunge, Says Study

    DES MOINES -- Consumers don¿t rush into pork purchases, presenting a window of opportunity for retailers to seal the deal, according to new research from the National Pork Board here.

    DES MOINES -- Consumers don’t rush into pork purchases, presenting a window of opportunity for retailers to seal the deal, according to new research from the National Pork Board here.

    The Pork Board's most recent consumer research, "Point of Decision 2," indicates that consumers spend an average of 1.4 minutes making fresh pork purchase decisions. "The revealing part of this 1.4 minute finding is that consumers still take their time when making pork choices," said Karen Boillot, director of retail marketing for the pork Board. "Retailers may be able to help consumers with their pork purchases through education about different cuts and offering consumers cooking ideas."

    The consumer survey is one of several projects the Pork Board uses to help retailers merchandise, and move, more fresh and processed pork. "The Point of Decision studies help us get into the minds of consumers," explained Boillot, "so we can help retailers educate and motivate consumers regarding their decisions at the meatcase."

    The Pork Board's most recent study is a follow-up to an initial project conducted in 2001, which found consumers spending four minutes making general meat purchases. Among the key highlights of the latest study is the finding that pork purchases are primarily determined by cut of meat and cooking method. Seventy-nine percent of pork purchasers inspect multiple packages, and 77 percent spent time reading package information.

    Pork product attributes drive the lion's share of planned purchases, with specific type/fresh pork segment at 87 percent, bone-in vs. boneless at 82 percent, and flavored vs. unflavored at 81 percent. Interestingly, the product attribute that contributes the least to a pork purchase is price, at 39 percent, according to the study. In addition, only 28 percent of pork purchasers can recall the package price they'd paid.

    "This data alerts us that pork consumers are not highly price-driven," Boillot said. "They are purchasing pork because they love the taste and they perceive it as easy and convenient." Boillot said taste and ease of preparation are the top two reasons cited by consumers when asked what they like about pork.

    The study also reveals that more than one-third of consumers who purchase pork are also likely to purchase other meat species on the same trip. Eighteen percent of consumers say they purchase pork, beef and chicken during the shopping trip.

    "This finding is extremely good news for retailers," said Boillot. "Not only is pork moving out of the meat case, it is not cannibalizing sales of other species. This also points to the importance of variety in the meatcase. Today's consumers are interested in protein variety to help satisfy more than one cooking occasion when they shop."

    The Point of Decision 2 study comprised two phases. Phase one was qualitative, broken out by pre-store decisions and in-store decisions. Three geographically dispersed markets were researched in September and October 2004, and 30 consumer shop-alongs were conducted. A moderator observed consumers’ shopping techniques and asked questions throughout the shopping trip.

    "In the pre-store qualitative phase, we found out about the role meat played in meal planning, use of grocery lists while shopping and importance of flyers and store circulars to consumers’ shopping methods," said Boillot. "During the in-store shop alongs, we observed general supermarket shopping behavior, and paid particularly close attention to shopping behavior at the meat case."

    "Research like POD1 and 2 helps us identify better ways to market fresh and processed pork to consumers through the retail meat department," Boillot added. "We are focused on helping retailers get into the minds of consumers to help move more meat out the door."

    The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health and pork safety.

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