By: Michelle Semler
On Saturday March 10th I had the pleasure of traveling to Omaha with Kyla to the Affiliated Food Show at the Century Link Center. Once we arrived I learned that Affiliated Foods consist of a group of independent grocery store owners from around the Midwest who join together to form a wholesale buying group. The food show is put on so that the store owners are able to scope out possible products that in the future they may like to see on their shelves.
As we walked into the Century Link Center one’s eyes nearly gloss over at the astonishing number of vendors and agriculturally related groups, such as ourselves the Nebraska Pork Producers, whom all have a display booths in one large room. Before we give Jane and her son Will a break from manning the Pork Producers booth Kyla and I wonder around for a bit.
The show is divided up into different sections such as baked goods, beverages, meats, etc… We of course start our journey of tasting within the meats section and remain here for most of our short journey. As we taste multiple products such as sausages, shrimp, mini corn dogs, and many more delectable treats not only is my mouth on fire from something spicy I indulged in my mind is on fire as I realize the majority of the processed meats products the vendors are attempting to sell are made from pork.
As we settle down to man the Pork Producers booth for a few hours I realize we are sitting directly across from a display of Spam made by Hormel. Even a few of their representatives are dressing the part of Spam Lovers and happen to be wearing Spam shirts (I was kinda jealous of these shirts). Huh…what are the chances that I come across another processed pork product after already sampled a handful? Having a bit of a love for fun facts I immediately remember that Spam celebrated its 75th anniversary a few weeks ago. For the majority of individuals, when they think “pork” their mind brings them pictures of pork chops, bacon, or a Christmas ham not such pork products as summer sausage, hot dogs, McRibs, and of course Spam.
The National Pork Board has recently changed their ad campaign to “Pork: Be Inspired”. Even though the campaign is new, people have been inspired by pork for many years, (for example the individuals who invented Spam ¾ of a century ago), and people continue to be inspired as vendors handed out samples of new and exciting pork products they were attempting to sell to the grocery store owners.
Aside from sitting across from the Hormel booth Kyla and I were able to interact with attendees from all age groups as they wandered around the food show themselves. Many people were excited for a free basting brush, bracelet, or koozie from our booth as well as learning from pamphlets possible new recipes for using pork and the new recommended cooking time and rest period.
It is always interesting to interact with the public and see all the personalities that they have to offer. Even thought this was only the 1st of many promotional activities I will take part in this year I am excited for future events as well. Not only will I have the opportunity to educate people about pork production and processing, but intend to learn more about the industry myself and “be inspired” to continue this involvement when I begin a career within animal agriculture.