The National Pork Board will travel next week to Texas, where more than one of every three residents is of Hispanic descent, to explore opportunities to market more pork to the growing Hispanic population in the United States.
The board will meet in San Antonio Jan. 7-9. While there members also will meet with Texas pork production leaders and with Texas and national experts in foreign animal diseases. The Texas meeting continues the board's tradition of visiting a pork-producing state during January. The board met last year in Illinois and has met previously with state pork leaders in California, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Ohio.
"These meetings have been extremely instructive and helpful for board members," said National Pork Board President Conley Nelson, an Algona, Iowa, farmer and pork production executive. "Many of the issues confronting hog farmers in Texas are very different from those in other parts of the country, so we really appreciate the opportunity to get the perspective of local farmers."
One of those issues is a large feral pig population in Texas. "The opportunity for these free-roaming pigs to carry disease to other parts of the country is a concern to all pork producers," Nelson said. Board members will get an overview of Texas' efforts to control feral pigs from Dr. Dee Ellis, Texas' state veterinarian, and from Mike Bodenchuk, Texas director of wildlife services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Service. The foreign animal disease threat will be addressed by Dr. Matt Cochran of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab, and Dr. Melissa Hefferin Berquist, associate director of the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense.
Texas also is at the forefront of the Hispanic population boom in the United States. According to statistics from the 2010 U.S. Census, 16.3 percent of the U.S. population is of Hispanic descent. In Texas, that number is just over 37 percent, and in San Antonio, 61 percent of the residents are of Hispanic origin.
"We have successfully focused Pork Checkoff marketing programs on the Hispanic market for a number of years," Nelson said, "because we know pork historically is an important part of the Hispanic diet. But as the population continues to grow in this country, we need to better understand what we can do to assure that pork continues to satisfy the needs of customers of Hispanic origin."
Board members have invited Ernest Bromley, chief executive officer of Bromley Communications, the nation's largest Hispanic advertising agency, to discuss marketing trends. Board members also will meet with Dan Marshall, business development director for H-E-B, a major food retailer in the Southwest, review Pork Checkoff marketing programs and tour the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio.
During the board's regular business meeting on Wednesday, members will:
- Hear results from the 2012 producer benchmark survey.
- Consider changes in the 2013 budget.
- Begin planning for 2013 Pork Industry Forum, March 7-9 in Orlando, Fla.