Pork Quality Targets


NPPC Pork Quality Solutions Team


The National Pork Producers Councils Pork Quality Solutions Team has developed a series of pork quality targets. The targets represent minimums or ranges, as the case may be, for quality attributes in fresh pork loin measured at 24-hours post-mortem. These are simply rough targets at which different members of the pork chain can aim as they develop programs to improve pork quality. These are guidelines and reference numbers. These targets are not intended to be specifications nor are they standards for industry use. Specifications may develop from these targets but the targets are not intended to be used directly in this manner. Likewise, specific standards may be developed from these attributes, but these targets are not meant to be standards as published. Standards may vary depending upon market needs.




These targets are intended to be the cutting edge of measures for each parameter. Therefore, they are intended to be dynamic in nature, evolving as improvements are made over time.


Specific targets are not intended to be exact for all technologies available to measure that particular trait. For example, water-holding capacity is expressed generally as drip loss regardless of how that parameter is measured.


Some targets are expressed as ranges due to the differences in needs of different segments. For example, intramuscular fat is expressed as a range with the minimum reflecting consumer retail purchase requirements and minimum product eating satisfaction requirements. The maximum reflects a compromise between expectations based upon nutritional and health concerns (lightly marbled) and the eating experience based upon maximum eating satisfaction (heavily marbled).


This fact sheet is not intended to identify causes of the varying levels of quality as exhibited by the variation in the measures for the different parameters. It is known that several factors are involved including on-farm considerations, transport issues, and factors involving the hog and the carcass at the packing plant.


Pork Quality Targets

Attribute Target Comment
Color 3.0 to 5.0 utilizing a 6-point scale
pH 5.6 to 5.9  
Tenderness <7 lb. (3.2 KG) utilizing WBS at 7 days
Flavor robust pork flavor no off-flavors
Intramuscular Fat “Marbling” 2 to 4%  
Drip Loss not to exceed 2.5%  


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Information developed for the Pork Information Gateway, a project of the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence supported fully by USDA/Agricultural Research Service, USDA/Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Pork Checkoff, NPPC, state pork associations from Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Utah, and the Extension Services from several cooperating Land-Grant Institutions including Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, South Dakota State University, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin, Texas A & M University, Virginia Tech University, University of Tennessee, North Dakota State University, University of Georgia, University of Arkansas, and Colorado State University.