A survey was conducted from November 2009 to April 2010 to determine how importers of pork define 7 predetermined quality categories (food safety, customer service, eating quality, product specification, packaging, visual characteristics, and production history) and to estimate willingnessto- pay (WTP) and establish best–worst (B/W) scaling (rank) for the 7 quality categories. Interviews were conducted in Hong Kong/China (n = 83), Japan (n = 48), Mexico (n = 70) and Russia (n = 54) with importers of U.S. pork or those who had purchased U.S. pork from distributors in the last 3 yr. Interviews used dynamic routing software and were structured such that economic factors for purchase were addressed first, allowing all responses to focus on quality. Questions about WTP and B/W were asked and then each respondent was asked to define what each quality category meant to them. Generalized linear mixed models were used to analyze frequency data. Over 70% of interviewees in Hong Kong/China, Japan, and Mexico responded that purchase price was influential in deciding whether or not to purchase imported pork. This number was lower in Russia, where respondents stated tariff rates were also important, indicating market access was a larger issue in Russia. Food safety was the most important quality category (price was not included as a part of quality) for imported pork followed by specifications. Respondents indicated some form of government inspection was how they defined food safety, whereas product size, weight, and subcutaneous fat were all included in the definition of specifications. Interviewees were more likely to pay premiums for customer service and less likely to pay premiums for packaging (P < 0.05). The premiums that were willing to be paid for guarantees of quality for imported pork variety meats were numerically lower than for whole muscle cuts or processed products. A guarantee associated with food safety of processed pork products was found to be the quality attribute for which importers would be willing to pay the highest premium. Production history was found to be the least important quality attribute for importers of all types of U.S. pork, except those in Japan. Exporters could increase profitability if a guarantee of customer service was made. Price, tariffs, and exchange rates are important to pork importers; these results indicated that if certain quality attributes could be guaranteed, exporters could increase profitability.
- Best–worst scaling