Genetic Biotechnology and Marketing Pork
To the “Informed” Consumer
I prefer to entitle this presentation “Consumer Driven Biotechnology”. It is consumers who, with their wallets, have the final vote every day. In the science-led field of biotechnology we can easily give the wrong message to the consumer. The consumer wants “delivered value”, the balance between the perceived values of a product and its costs. These values and costs differ between products and also between different groups of people. I show examples from the seed and pig businesses, as well as between Europe and the USA. Increasingly consumers are asking that their food suppliers not only jump over the three normal hurdles of “Taste”, “Nutrition” and “Food Safety”, but also over an additional fourth hurdle of “Food production methods”.
“Biotechnology is the use of biological processes to produce food, medical and industrial products, commercially” is PIC’s preferred definition of the term. With this description it is easy to explain how traditional biotechnology has been with us for many centuries in the form of bread, wine and cheese making. It is the more recent modern biotechnology that is offering so much potential but also causing so much concern in different parts of the world. Some advanced genetic biotechnologies in use in the pig industry include DNA markers, selective breeding, pharmaceutical products, and genetically modified (GM) crops used in feeds. There are no GM pigs for pork production on the horizon.
PIC believes that genetic biotechnologies are of vital importance to the pork chain members. PIC uses several of the biotechnologies, and invests a great deal of money each year in them. PIC is well aware of the issues that modern biotechnologies can raise, and, over the last three years, has trained hundreds of managers in its “Biotechnology Awareness Program”. PIC is also putting a lot of resources into working with packers, processors and retailers in an effort to better understand the needs of the consumer. PIC is convinced that the “Push model” era in the pork industry is now permanently changing to the “Pull model” where it is the consumer who buys what he wants, and no longer the producer selling what the producer wants.
The consumer is king. The changing market and consumer needs must be a focal point of the activities of all the pork chain – including the biotechnology industry. The biotechnology industry planners ignore, at their peril, the pork consumer requirements of product consistency, tastiness, convenience, health and food safety.
Guy Prall, PIC Group Technology Business Manager
Franklin, KY, November 2, 2000