24 October 2023
New Zealand scientists have unlocked the secret to what makes great tasting pork.
NZPork commissioned AgResearch to examine how factors such as animal gender and muscle pH values impact the eating quality of New Zealand born and raised pork.
Consumer testing identified a preference for pork with normal pH levels of 5.52 to 5.65 - just slightly acidic - while those with low pH achieved less favourable scores.
Animal gender wasn’t found to influence eating quality for pigs with normal pH levels. However, when it came to pork with low pH levels, meat from entire males had the highest fail rate.
The research also evaluated the most popular sensory characteristics of pork, with consumers reporting that aroma was the aspect of pork they most enjoy, followed by flavour, tenderness and then juiciness.
The innovative eating quality project was led by AgResearch’s Senior Food Scientist Dr. Carolina Realini.
NZPork chief executive Brent Kleiss said previous consumer studies by NZPork have shown that quality and price are the most important factors when deciding to buy pork.
“These AgResearch findings provide valuable information and insights about how much pig gender and pH factors enhance or lessen the eating experience.
“Building this better understanding of what leads to pork with attributes consumers enjoy the most will help farmers to continually provide top-quality New Zealand pork products that customers can rely on.
“All parts of the supply chain have a part to play in improving and maintaining the quality of pork and we are committed to working with the sector to reduce the number of pork carcases with low pH.”
Dr Realini said the consumer study involving 200 participants provided key insights to construct a comprehensive profile of current consumer expectations regarding domestic fresh pork.
“Consumers highlighted that juiciness plays a crucial role in shaping their overall pork-eating experience, in contrast to my experience working with other meats like beef or lamb, where tenderness and flavour often take precedence.”
NZPork is working to ensure Kiwis feel more confident about cooking pork steaks and chops with the gold-standard cooking method designed to produce perfect pork every time, said Mr Kleiss.
“The 6+2+2 method is simple, easy to remember, and never fails to create succulent, juicy pork in just ten minutes.
“Over a medium-high heat, fry your New Zealand pork steaks or chops for six minutes on one side. Flip them over and cook for two minutes on the other side. Then remove from the pan and rest them for two minutes.
“When cooked right, pork steaks and chops are incredibly tasty and juicy. Unfortunately, people can be put off purchasing and cooking pork because they’ve had bad experiences with it being overcooked and dry. The6+2+2 method means people can feel confident cooking perfect pork every time.
“Contrary to what many New Zealanders have been taught, the best way to eat pork is a little bit pink in the middle, much like beef or lamb.”