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Survey Finds Pig Diets Influence Purchases by Millennials

January 26, 2017
43% of American millennials say what pigs eat impacts their buying habits. Image courtesy of USDA
43% of American millennials say what pigs eat impacts their buying habits. Image courtesy of USDA

Amid public criticism following recent news reports that Skittles are being used as an ingredient in feed for production animals, Cargill released the findings of a survey Tuesday showing that the diet of pigs is a significant influence on the pork purchasing decisions of millennials.

The agricultural giant’s research found that 43% of American millennials said the diet of pigs influences what pork products they purchase. In Spain, where pork is serious business, about 65% of millennials said the diet of pigs shapes their buying habits.

“Many consumers, millennials in particular, are speaking loudly about the importance of knowing what is on the dinner table and where it comes from,” a statement by Patrick Duerksen, Cargill global marketing director of pork, said. “It is important for Cargill and others in the agricultural supply chain to help consumers understand that the pork they eat was produced in a healthy and responsible manner.”

Polling 2000 people in the U.S. and Spain, Cargill researchers said their findings indicate that Gen X and Baby Boomer adults “place less importance on the diets of the pigs they consume.” In America, 32% of Baby Boomers said pig diet impacts their purchasing decisions, compared with 26% of Gen Xers.

While American millennials consider pig diet an important factor in their buying habits, 42% also said that they do not believe their pork is provided with a healthy diet. 67% of Spanish millennials said they do not believe their pork is raised with healthy food.

“The U.S. pork industry works hard to conduct research and improve the nutritional balance of swine diets,” said Dr, Chris Hostetler, director of animal science at the National Pork Board, in Cargill’s release. “It is incumbent upon us to raise pigs in a healthy, safe, and responsible manner. And that begins with diet and nutrition.”

94% of Americans eat pork, the survey found, with 52% reporting that bacon is their favorite pork product. In Spain, 98% of respondents reported eating pork, with 74% declaring that ham is their top product.

Though consumers have developed strong perceptions about swine nutrition, Cargill’s research found that many consumers have an inaccurate notion of how much feed is required to properly raise a pig.

“Only 10% of both U.S. and Spanish consumers have an accurate idea of how much feed it takes to raise a pig to market weight,” the report said.

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