Results of a new Pork Checkoff consumer tracking study released this week by the Pork Checkoff find that more American consumers are reporting an enduring love for pork. Key research findings show more U.S. consumers rate their enjoyment of pork higher than in previous studies.The study found that 43% of U.S. households rate both pork cuts and their confidence in cooking the meat higher, which is up seven points from 36% in May of 2013. In 2010, the consumer target was just 27% of U.S. households. Additionally, consumer buying habits, measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, also show more consumers are buying pork.

David Newman, chair of the Pork Checkoff domestic marketing committee and a pig farmer from Fargo, ND, noted that people are becoming more passionate about their consumption of pork. The two studies confirm that consumers are eating and using more pork in recipes and as a menu item because of its value, flavor and versatility.

Consumers taking part in the Pork Checkoff study were asked to rate pork cuts on a 10-point scale, resulting in a demonstrated increase in the volume of consumers who rank pork as an eight or higher.

The study looks at how much people enjoy pork and, through that experience, label consumers who love pork as 'pork champions, Newman said. Through the performance of the tracking study, experts have found a marked increase in the number of pork champions, with these consumers consistently rating pork higher.

The study also found that a majority of all fresh pork eaten - 84% at-home and 80% away-from-home - is consumed by a Pork Checkoff target consumer. The total percent of pork eaten by this target consumer grew significantly since the Pork Be inspired® campaign was introduced in 2011.

The impact of the new marketing campaign is beginning to be seen, and researchers feel it is making a distinct difference in the marketplace and how American consumers view and buy pork, the chair of the Pork Checkoff domestic marketing committee noted. All across the board, consumers are buying more pork from stores and foodservice outlets.

The tracking study results are further reinforced by the Pork Checkoff's key measure of domestic marketing: real per capita consumer pork expenditures.  Using USDA data, consumer pork expenditures measure both the volume (in pounds) and value (in dollars) of pork sold in the United States. Data through December 2013 showed per capita pork expenditures grew by 5.6% from 2012 to 2013.

The consumer tracking study also asked pork eaters, "Other than price, what most influences your meat-purchasing decisions?" The top three drivers of meat purchases are quality (63 %), followed by appearance (50%) and convenience (32%).

The nationally fielded tracking study is conducted by the Pork Checkoff twice each calendar year and most recently in November 2013. Respondents are representative of the U.S. population for gender, age, ethnicity and income.