Larry K. McMullen, Swine Field Specialist, Southeast
Niche markets are, by definition, small distinct markets that may provide higher prices for products that meet specific customer needs. In the swine industry, one of those niche markets is the production of Berkshire hogs. The Berkshire breed is a superior breed for carcass quality traits that transcends into excellent eating qualities. This fact has been known in Japan for decades; therefore, the export of Berkshire pork to Japan has been and still is the major market. But demand for Berkshire pork in the United States is increasing rapidly. Because of this, more Berkshire producers are needed to produce Berkshire pork. But potential producers do not know enough about the Berkshire breed and the niche program to determine whether it is feasible to enter into Berkshire production. Therefore, there was a need to develop unbiased informational material about the opportunities in Berkshire niche market production that would help a potential producer to make an informed decision whether to produce Berkshire pork.
To develop this informational material, a grant was received from the Pork Niche Market Working Group (PNMWG) supported by the Value Chain Partnerships for a Sustainable Agriculture (VCPSA) using funds from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to research and prepare information on Berkshire niche market production. Information was gleaned from internet web sites, personal communication and interviews with key Berkshire people. From the informational research, a production and marketing manual was developed. To facilitate potential economic impact of producing Berkshires, an excel spreadsheet decision aid was programmed to compare Berkshire to commodity pork production. Also, a power point program was developed for presentation of the Berkshire niche market opportunities to large groups.
In August, a 24 page Berkshire Swine Production and Marketing manual, decision aids comparing both farrow-finish and market pig production, and a power point presentation were released. All of these Berkshire niche market informational materials were posted at the following internet web sites: a) Pork Niche Market Working Group b) National Pork Board Niche Market c) American Berkshire Association and d) Iowa Pork Industry Center. The response to these materials has been excellent. Since September 21 to October 12th there has been 322 hits for the materials on the American Berkshire Association web site. One individual who was representing a company interested in investing into a Berkshire farm stated to me in an email Your decision aids and other material are a huge contribution for our planning regarding an investment in a Berkshire farm. Thank you for your work.
108 Iowa Pork Industry Center
Page last updated:
October 19, 2006
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