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The mission of the National Pork Board (NPB) is to unite pork producers with key stakeholders and elevate U.S. pork as the global protein of choice by continuously and collaboratively working to do what’s right for people, pigs, and the planet.

A few years ago, the National Pork Board adopted a new role to provide the U.S. pork industry with leading-edge consumer research and insights. With that purpose in mind, NPB sought a research partner to conduct foundational research to create a comprehensive Pork Demand Landscape to provide industry stakeholders with accurate, forward-looking market intelligence. This study would help inform strategies and tactics that could be used among a variety of stakeholders, such as processors, manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, etc.


This research posed several challenges in terms of its comprehensive scope and its need for accurate purchase and consumption data that would align well with industry statistics. Overall, NPB sought to understand the demand landscape for pork within the larger market context and spectrum of protein choice. Specifically, the research needed to address many business issues:

  • Illuminate the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of pork consumption in the U.S. 
  • Identify, define, and clarify the best target audiences for pork today and in the future, for both in-home and out-of-home consumption.
  • Identify current and future growth opportunities for pork: 
    • By target audience
    • By meal occasion/situation
    • By unmet needs
    • By pork product
    • At home and when dining out
  • Help understand motivators and barriers to the purchase and usage of pork.
  • Uncover correlations between consumer values, preferences, perceptions, and consumption behavior.
  • Provide insights to develop new message opportunities that will drive pork usage and loyalty.
  • Discover insights to guide innovation and future product development.
  • Determine how grocery, dining, and other food-related trends impact consumer preference and demand for pork, both now and into the future.

The combination of needing to address so many business issues, along with having accurate purchase data resulted in a very unique research challenge.


Our research helped inform actionable strategies to align and position individual pork cuts with key consumer targets and their needs by different dining occasions, in-home and away from home. The insights provided a clear path for innovation to better position pork by consumer generation, family type, and nutritional priorities, as well as for the creation of retailer selling stories. In partnership with the client’s agency, a comprehensive publicity and social media campaign was rolled-out to disseminate key insights. Additionally, actionable white papers were developed and posted on the National Pork Board’s website; the following is a sampling of overarching findings: 

  • Category Revival requires overcoming key barriers: Key need states require that pork delivers more on heartiness, healthiness, and broader range of occasions.
  • Key categories need to expand their appeal: Millennials will require greater education and meal inspiration as well as a robust new product pipeline.
  • Identified key occasions to define dining out decisions: These serve as a springboard for converting these opportunities into powerful, collaborative ideas and initiatives that empower industry partners to succeed.

C+R conducted a comprehensive, multiple-phased research plan with regular data-sharing work sessions with the National Pork Board and their agency throughout the program.

The program kicked off with a Category Discovery by leveraging Numerator’s OmnipanelTM to initially understand purchase dynamics of the client’s categories and subcategories versus competitive proteins. Previously household-level analyses had not gone to the level of specificity that had been needed. This helped understand key volume drivers and opportunities. We provided NPB with an integrated look at the strengths and weaknesses of different pork cuts in terms of penetration, trips and buy rate, by channel.

The Category Discovery was then followed by qualitative research to develop hypotheses as well as develop survey content for the quantitative phase. For the qualitative phase, we wanted to gain insights from different ethnicities and those with different category affinity, including Millennials, Unacculturated, and Bicultural Hispanics. We conducted ten focus groups to explore perceptions, emotions, and barriers associated with the category. A proprietary online community was implemented to capture digital journaling and shopper missions to understand usage and shopping behavior.

We then used our Illuminator® solution, Dollars + Attitudes® framework, by administering an online survey to Numerator’s OmnipanelTM to a respondent’s retail purchase behavior could be overlaid with their needs and motivations. To address the long list of business questions and to reduce respondent fatigue, three modular, sequentially triggered surveys were implemented to quantify consumers’ attitudes and usage of the pork and a variety of other meats in the following dimensions: in-home consumption, out of home consumption and general attitudes & trends.

Advanced analytics played a key role in this endeavor – such as refining need states, defining category drivers, attitudinal segments, and perceptual mapping.

Learn more about how C+R leverages our Illuminator® solutions to provide clients with behavior and attitudinal consumer data through our answers for your brands, categories, channels/retailers, or shoppers by marrying C+R Research's qualitative and quantitative expertise with actual behavioral data collected from millions of shopping receipts.

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