A growing trend among consumers is the local food movement, and knowing where one’s food comes from. To help bring the farm to consumers visually, the Pork Checkoff is establishing new connections through quick-response (QR) codes printed on pork labels.

QR codes are small boxes containing an array of black or white squares. When scanned with a smartphone or computer tablet, QR codes direct the mobile device to display a video, text or other information. In this case, the QR codes on pork labels in participating grocery stores are highlighting the pork industry’s We CareSM principles.

“We wanted to find the best way to share this information with consumers,” said Angela Anderson, food chain outreach manager for the Pork Checkoff. “We decided that short videos were the quickest, most effective way to catch people’s attention and articulate the We Care principles.”

The Checkoff developed a mobile website with four short We Care-related videos focusing on animal nutrition, animal well-being, feed additives and antibiotics. After scanning the QR codes, consumers can watch the videos to learn how pork producers provide safe, nutritious food.

Putting Messages to the Test
Before the QR codes and videos were implemented, the Pork Checkoff developed a test round of pork labels. These were distributed on the West Coast through a large retail chain to gauge consumers’ response.

“The results showed that we needed to give consumers an incentive to scan the QR codes and watch the videos,” said Jarrod Sutton, assistant vice president of channel marketing for the Checkoff. After adding the chance to win a $500 gift card from select retailers, the Pork
Checkoff redistributed the labels in grocery stores across the country. This has increased the number of scans by consumers.

Moving in the Right Direction
Retailers who have used the QR codes have been impressed with the results. “The program was outstanding, and I was encouraged by how many customers at Hannaford supermarkets participated,” said Rick Wilson, pork category manager for Delhaize America Shared Services
Group, LLC. “I look forward to partnering with the Pork Checkoff on other consumer education opportunities.”

The Pork Checkoff plans to survey select consumers who participated in the QR code promotion. The feedback will help fine-tune the content of future promotions with QR codes.

“We have so many ideas on how to develop the program further,” Sutton said. “The pork industry is headed in the right direction by being transparent and helping consumers learn more about the farm-to-fork connection.”