The industry clearly has work to do, as a recent survey by industry association the Danish Agriculture & Food Council (DAFC) found that 69% of Danes thought chicken to be nutritious, while only 14% deemed pork to be nutritious. The council released a paper on the survey on 4 August, based on fieldwork carried out in February.
Jens Hansen, spokesperson for Denmark’s leading pork and beef processing company Danish Crown, said the company was trying to communicate to Danish consumers that “pork is as nutritious as chicken or even better if right cuts without fat” are eaten, he told GlobalMeatNews. He said the outcome of this survey was “no surprise” given the aggressive way chicken and turkey have been promoted in Denmark, but added: “The pork industry could have been more aggressive….” The reason why Danes consider pork to be low on nutrition is largely because cuts with fat have been popular traditionally. “It is all a matter of going for right cuts,” stressed Hansen.
Chief consultant and food economist at the DAFC’s pig research centre Marianne Gregersen said: “It was somewhat surprising to me that the perception was this extreme.” She said other research has indicated that Danish consumers associate pig meat with other benefits than health, however. She warned this could be a long-term trend because “perception tends to be sticky”, she said.
However, Hansen said “it is up to us on the other side of the game to promote pork now highlighting its health benefits”. Indeed, Danish Crown has been conducting awareness campaigns promoting pork for past two years via health advisors and chefs, he added.
Meanwhile the DAFC survey said 25% of those interviewed rated beef to be healthy, better than pork, although behind chicken. And Hansen said Denmark was one of the countries in the world with the highest consumption of minced beef.
According to Danish Poultry Meat Association figures, 116 million broilers were produced in Denmark in 2013, of which 10 million were exported alive while 106 million were slaughtered locally. There are 180 poultry farms in the country. Denmark’s nearly 5,000 pig farms produce around 28 million pigs annually, of which 90% of the production is exported, according to the DAFC. Almost 90% of pigs are slaughtered by Danish Crown and the remaining 10% by international food group Tican.
Despite poor public perception about pork’s nutrition, it is still a favourite traditional dish among Danes, according to Gregersen: “Pig meat is highly associated with tradition and festive occasions. For instance, most Danes eat pork roast at Christmas,” she said.