Bob Ruth, a pork producer from Pennsylvania, was elected in July to lead the National Pork Board (NPB), a 15-producer board of directors representing more than 60,000 U.S. pig farmers.
Ruth serves as the senior vice president for Clemens Food Group after working for Country View Family Farms, a farrow-to-finish farm with over 110,000 sows, for more than 20 years.
The NPB and the National Pork Checkoff program, paid by pork producers, funds research, promotion, and education efforts for the industry. Ruth and his board members are focused on building consumer trust while adding value to all U.S. pork products.
Successful Farming sat down with Ruth to learn more about his role and the pork board’s goals.
Successful Farming: As NPB President, what is one goal you hope to accomplish?
Bob Ruth: NPB has made tremendous strides throughout the last few years, and I want to prolong the legacy of our past presidents while improving for presidents following in my tracks. Anything you do in life is all about people; I aim to focus on our tremendous team at NPB and continue building a culture of engagement and accountability.
SF: What is your favorite pork product and why?
BR: Wow, that is a tough question! There is not a cut of pork that I don’t like! However, it comes down to a tie, as there is nothing better than bacon, but I like my baby back ribs, too. Carnitas come a close second!
SF: When consumers think of pork and pork production, what is their most common response?
BR: There needs to be more connection between the perception of pork production and reality. That is why it is so vital we, farmers and the NPB, keep focusing on living and breathing our trust and image brand Real Pork. We should also keep building consumer trust by sharing how our farms use the We Care Ethical Principles in our operations. Additionally, NPB is focused on adding value to pork through strategic human nutrition initiatives. I am so excited about the checkoff investment in the Real Pork Trust Consortium, which will collect data with universities and help pork producers tell our incredible story of goodness for people and the planet.
SF: How can pork producers improve or build their relationships with consumers?
BR: I tell our producers to remember the power of authentic mealtime memories celebrating real pork that’s real nutritious and real sustainable. For others, a simple conversation may shift mindsets and bust misconceptions, which could have a generational impact on consumption. I have given hundreds of farm tours and have never had a person who was not blown away by our farms’ cleanliness, organization, and technology. The disconnect is usually fixable when a farmer can take time to discuss what they do and how they raise pigs. We have the magic; we just need to take the time to tell others.
SF: Where do you see the future of pork production going in the next five years? What change should producers anticipate?
BR: I’m optimistic about our future; we have a very versatile product holding its own. However, we do need to remember that change is inevitable, and we should embrace it rather than be afraid. Consumers buy our products, and we should listen and address their concerns when they ask. Without our customers, we are nothing. However, we will be fine if we stay engaged with them.