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A more demanding and evolving consumer is creating change in the market for pork and many working within the industry are predicting opportunities for leaner products. However, leaner pork enthusiasts also are frustrated by the established industry food chain that offers little incentive for modification. Modification would require change on the part of genetic suppliers, commercial producers, packers and processors, and retailers. However, many of these food chain participants traditionally have not collaborated with others in the sector. Yet the establishment of these new linkages may be key to the success of a leaner pork industry. This case study documents several of the activities currently occurring within the leaner pork industry and explores new linkages which may be critical in the future. Currently, genetic suppliers are struggling with short-term needs of producers, while attempting to look at the long-term demands of consumers. Hog producers have been profitable and lack incentives to alter practices which would produce leaner animals. Packers are interested in efficiently running large scale operations with large quantities of low cost meat. Retailers struggle with labeling inconsistencies and a low cost mentality that make it difficult to market leaner pork in the meatcase. Leaner pork enthusiasts are making strides to overcome the disadvantages found in the traditional system. Some genetic suppliers are now working with packers to determine animal quality beyond the producer's feedlot. Some packers are creating incentive programs that pay producers for leaner quality. These lean incentive programs may become more attractive for packers and producers if new technologies measuring lean become less prohibitive for larger operations. Many packers are moving into branded products, resulting in incentive programs for producers who supply animals with the desired quality. Overall, these efforts have remained a small portion of total pork industry activities.


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