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National Pork Checkoff sponsors niche market conference in Ohio
By DOUG SCHMITZ
Iowa Correspondent

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Pork Checkoff will host the NichePork Producers Conference on January 23 at the Ramada Conference Center in Bryan-Montpelier, Ohio, for U.S. pork producers interested in specializing their operations.

“The Pork Checkoff has been working with partners for the last several years to host a Niche Marketing Conference to help pork producers better understand ways they can take advantage of niche or specialty markets,” said Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of communications for the National Pork Board, which houses the Pork Checkoff.

The NichePORK Producers Conference will focus on providing scientific-based information to producers interested in niche markets and providing a product with attributes that are customer-preferred and valued by the consumer, Cunningham added.

The conference is a joint effort between the Pork Checkoff, the Ohio Pork Producers and the National Swine Registry in West Lafayette, Ind.

Cunningham said a niche market may be anything from filling a small need - such as a few hogs cut a certain way - to a very large market that demands a certain product.

“It could be something like meeting specific production requirements or cutting the hog in a different manner than is typical in the U.S.,” she said. “The bottom line of a niche market is helping the producer to achieve added value for specific things they have done along the way.”

“It is intended for producers who are currently involved in or considering non-traditional marketing ideas,” she said.

U.S. producers will hear from industry experts about research that explains consumer trends and buying potential. Producers will also be able to choose from a variety of breakout session topics including: getting started; producing and marketing a niche product; supply systems and producer marketing associations, grant writing and proposals; food safety for niche marketing; and producer success stories.

“Market research has shown that there are consumers looking for specific types of pork - whether that is a different breed, locally grown, or pork-raised using a unique production method - and there are producers out there who can fulfill those needs,” said Larry Cizek, director of culinary and niche markets for the Pork Checkoff.

“Conferences like this help producers in a variety ways,” he said. “Our goal is to share information with producers as well as learn from them.”

Cunningham said many U.S. producers - especially those not in the Midwest - face tremendous market access disadvantages that niche marketing could help alleviate.

“Niche or specialty markets helps those producers to be competitive, and in some cases to receive very high premiums for their pork,” she said. “We would hope to see several hundred people at this meeting.”

Rick Pfortmiller of the National Swine Registry and member of the Niche Marketing Committee said the conference would provide pork producers with an opportunity to learn from and share ideas with industry experts and other producers having success with niche pork.

“If producers have any interest in niche pork production at all,” he said, “this is the place to be.”

The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The preregistration fee is $30, while registration at the door is $35. To download a registration form, visit www.nichepork.org/ProducerHome.asp

This farm news was published in the Jan. 3, 2007 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

1/3/2007