You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

Celebrate National Pork Month with a look at pork quality.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. While this quote applies to many aspects of pork production, it’s especially true when discussing pork quality.

First off, what is pork quality? It probably depends on who you ask! Simply put, pork quality is the total of all characteristics that cause differences between samples of a product, and influence the value perceived by the end user (processor or consumer). Not all consumers perceive quality the same; end users often define quality using their own terms. For consumers, color is a key purchasing decision driver. Tenderness and degree of doneness is generally related to a positive eating experience and repeat purchases.

When it comes to defining the characteristics of pork quality, there are likely several traits or attributes that come to mind – pH, color, marbling, breed or genetic influence, and degree of doneness just to name a few. PIC has been selecting for pork quality-related traits for several years – pH, marbling, and most recently, tenderness, are all critical components of the complex puzzle PIC considers to drive genetic improvement for better pigs and pork. We select for these traits because of how they translate to better quality pork through harvest, processing, and ultimately, a better product for the consumer.

PIC has developed packer-focused tools to measure and manage genetic decisions and help customers reach full potential related to meat quality and carcass composition.

  • PIC Total Carcass Value Handbook:
    • Comprehensive resource with basic and applied meat science knowledge aimed at assisting the global pork supply chain in producing high-quality and desirable pork.
  • Primal Mix calculators:
    • Utilizing data from PIC’s GNX program, this tool incorporates plant specific information on cut yields and is key to showing how primal cuts change as carcass weights increase.
  • PIC Pork Quality Compass:
    • The PIC Pork Quality Compass benchmarking program enables our applied meat science team to measure four key attributes that impact the quality of pork from eating satisfaction and meat processing perspectives as influenced by plant operations: post-mortem chilling rates, post-mortem pH evaluations, color, and firmness. PIC treats individual data as strictly confidential with reports maintaining anonymity. For more information on how to participate in this program, contact

At the end of the day, there are multiple factors that can influence and impact pork yield and quality. It takes all parts of production and the supply chain working synergistically to get the best possible pork quality outcomes – and continually working to understand consumer demands so that we can work to deliver what consumers want. Most importantly, we can’t manage what we don’t measure, and that’s why PIC is focused on implementing tools to measure and manage positive outcomes for our customers’ pork quality.

Optimum Market Weight Calculator

Pork quality isn’t a term used only by packers or consumers but is rather a focus throughout production. To accompany that thought, PIC has developed a tool to help producers market pigs at the right time. Optimum Market Weight is the average weight that creates the most profit for an individual producer. It differs for each operation, based mainly on input costs, processor payment grid and market price. With PIC’s new Optimum Market Weight Calculator, PIC has taken out the guesswork of achieving optimum market weight for your operation. Developed by our Applied Meat Science team, this tool will help producers market their pigs in the most profitable manner.