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By Staff | Aug 16, 2013

I grilled some really good Iowa chops for dinner. I had no idea that I was grilling a Porterhouse pork chop. I am not sure, it might have been a T-bone chop.

It is hard to tell the difference after the pork industry renamed these pork cuts.

The pork industry has pulled off a coup over the beef industry adopting names of beef cuts for prime cuts of pork calling them T-bones, ribeye, New York, boneless ribeye and Porterhouse chops.

The president of the National Pork Board said, “These new names will help change the way consumers and retailers talk about pork.”

The Pork Checkoff report said that, “Before the renaming process took shape, the National Pork Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association collaborated on in-depth research during an 18-month period.

The research showed that consumers are often confused by the different names for similar cuts of meat. As a result, they don’t know how to cook a variety of cuts now available in the meat case.

To overcome the challenge, the Pork Checkoff has simplified pork cut names and is including basic usage and preparation information on the package.

Ironically I knew what an Iowa chop was and I also know what a T-bone or ribeye is, too. The Iowa chop was pork and the T-bone and ribeye were beef steaks.

The Pork Board mentions their collaboration with the NCBA to suggest the adoption of names of beef cuts by the pork industry was okay with NCBA.

Remember these NCBA guys don’t think meat should be labeled for country of origin so it is not surprising that they would roll over on this too, agreeing to share names of steaks with the pork industry.

In my opinion, the beef industry must have had the most gullible members possible working on this collaboration with the pork board for them to donate names that the beef industry has invested enormous equity into building its brand that they willingly conceded to the pork industry.

I don’t believe that if the shoe was on the other foot that the pork industry would concede something like its “the other white meat” slogan to the poultry industry just for uniformity in what they call their product.

I think that was a lousy, weak excuse built on some convoluted research results that should have been trumped by common sense that led them to the conclusion that the beef industry should willingly concede use of these names.

The pork board members must be shaking their heads in disbelief that they pulled this off on the beef industry.

They weren’t setting back though just savoring their win, they were quickly exploiting it. The cover of the Pork Checkoff Report had a picture of a “Porterhouse chop” on it under the banner, “Grill it like a STEAK!”

First of all, they adopt all the names of beef cuts that consumers, make no mistake know what they are, and follow it up with a new promotion, “Grill it like a Steak.” That is aggressive and I think effective.

The Pork Checkoff director of retail marketing said, “Research shows that consumers buy cuts they are familiar with. Now, once they get their New York pork chop or ribeye pork chop home, they can grill it the way they’re familiar with.”

I think that this was brilliant. Stick it right to the beef industry adopting their product names and then telling everybody that they are eating “steak.”

How did the beef industry benefit from this? Consumers are confused, the research says so, so sharing the iconic names of beef cuts with the pork industry when beef has always gotten value from differentiating its quality from pork somehow benefits the beef industry and this makes sense?

Now a ribeye can be both pork and beef? The pork industry is going after the whole name so that chops can now be marketed “Eats like a Steak, Cuts like a Steak.”

Obviously the pork industry sees value in their product being thought of as steak. Porterhouse pork chops sell cheaper than Porterhouse beef steaks, but if they are the same cut, the pork must be just as good, right?

Whoever conceded to this from NCBA should be rhetorically tarred and feathered.

I sure don’t blame the pork industry for this. They are investing $3 million of Pork Checkoff funding to bolster summer promotion, while the NCBA has been making $4 million in budget cuts for lack of checkoff funding resources as cattle numbers have declined.

They put an appealing picture of a pork cut that they call a “Porterhouse Steak” on the cover of their magazine and hope consumers will buy it.

I expect that some will, at the expense of a Porterhouse beef steak. That is smart pork promotion.

Don’t let anyone kid themselves that it isn’t at the expense of the beef industry.

Heck, I would drop their “Pork, Be Inspired” promotion and run with “Grill it Like a Steak.”

The pork industry competed with chicken as the other white meat and now they compete with beef as a steak.

I am impressed. Beef producers should be, too.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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