New campaign wants to create a passion for pork

THINKING YOUNG Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all play 
key role in the “Passion for Pork” marketing campaign

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There’s nothing better than a nice pork roast or chop — if you’re an older male. But if you’re under age 25, neither is likely to show up on the dinner table.

That’s something a new Alberta Pork marketing campaign hopes to change.

Alberta Pork delegates got an overview of the “Passion for Pork” campaign from Dennis McKnight of the Innovators at their recent AGM.

That data on consumption comes from a 2004 Ipsos-Reid study, and the older male demographic is not good news, he said.

“I’m not being prejudiced on this, but this is not a bright future,” said McKnight, who is overseeing the campaign.

The same study said consumers under the age of 25 seldom eat pork.

“This is a very important demographic,” he said. “If you want to have a future, you have to have young people eating your product.”

Understanding consumer preferences and markets is key, he said. Research finds more people want top quality in smaller portions, he noted, and that Asian Canadians are more likely than average to eat pork once a week.

“We have, on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, one of the largest Asian populations in Canada. Let’s get after them,” he said.

Pork consumption is higher in regions such as Quebec and the Maritimes, where consumers are more aware of the nutritional benefits, said McKnight. “Local” is also key.

“There are over a billion dollars of sales at farmers’ markets in Canada because people want to support local farmers,” said McKnight.

But large numbers of consumers don’t know how to cook pork, save for frying chops or bacon. But there’s an easy way to address that.

“Do you realize that last year there were 1.5 billion hits on the Internet by people looking for recipes?” said McKnight.

That’s one of the things that Passion for Pork is trying to leverage. The campaign, which kicked off in May, has a website with information about pork, 24 cooking videos by top chefs from Alberta and B.C., and more than 100 pork recipes. So far, 20,000 people have visited the website.

Social media is also vital to reaching young people, said McKnight.

“We’re part of the conversation,” he said. “If you want to be part of the conversation with younger people, you have to be on social media.”

The campaign, largely funded by Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, has an active social media campaign including a YouTube channel for the chefs’ videos. There are also bloggers in Edmonton and Calgary who post personal blog entries with pork recipes, and there’s a Facebook page and Twitter feed.

But none of this will change consumer buying habits overnight.

“You have to make the long-term commitment to this stuff and you have to constantly be there,” McKnight said.

The campaign also involves ads in food publications and participated in a restaurant week where top restaurants in Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary had to put pork on the menu and come up with three new pork recipes.

“They did, they loved it, and I can tell you that those restaurants still have pork on the menu,” McKnight said.

Restaurants are now challenged to create great meals for under $20 a plate, and are making more of their own products, which can include charcuterie (the branch of cooking devoted to prepared pork products such as bacon, ham, sausage, etc.).

“It is a good time for pork, if we do it correctly,” he said. “It’s about giving people ideas and recipes and being part of their conversation.”

The next phase of Passion for Pork will focus on telling people where they can purchase Alberta pork.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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