Chunyan Zhang, PhD, Geneticist, Genesus Inc.
Pork quality is an important factor influencing profitability of any pork market where the consumer is willing to pay extra for superior pork quality. Out of a large variety of meat quality measurements, the consumers` eating experience is a primary factor influencing their purchasing decision.
Consumers` eating experience is mostly linked with juiciness, tenderness, flavour and overall acceptability. However, all these traits are very difficult to improve due to the high cost of measurement (mainly taste panels) so limited amounts of data are available. Even given these challenges, Genesus Inc. as a global pig breeding company, continues to develop strategies and programs to genetically improve these traits to better satisfy the final consumers desires.
Many eating quality traits have favorable associations with pork quality measurements. A recent pork quality project conducted by Genesus showed that pork chops with higher pH and higher intramuscular fat content (IMF) had significantly better sensory taste scores. Over a normal pH levels, higher IMF contributes to better sensory acceptability (Lei at al., 2018). IMF has been also shown to be positively associated with tenderness and marbling (~ 0.32) (De Vol et al., 1988), which is related to better eating experience.
There are many factors influencing pork eating quality (http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/5359/consumers-and-pork-quality-sensory-taste/). One of the most important is the pigs’ genetic potential. Many eating quality traits are determined by multiple genes. And many of these genes also have favorable effects on other economically important traits. For example, the favourable alleles in FTO and LEPR genes, were associated with better juiciness and overall acceptability, also had significantly positive effects on lower shear force (more tender), better colour, better moisture, crude protein, IMF and cholesterol content (Li et al. 2010; Zhang et al., 2014).
Therefore, eating quality traits are expected to be improved with genetic improvement of pH, colour, IMF, shear force, and other traits which are favorably associated with eating quality variables. Genesus has conducted a carcass and pork quality program since 1998. We continue to enhance our carcass and pork quality program including purebred and crossbred data, new traits and technologies. Recently, Genesus developed a custom designed SNP chip to assist in the improvement of pork quality. This customised SNP chip includes valuable genetic markers that were detected through Genesus carcass and pork quality research. These investments demonstrate Genesus’ continued focus on genetic improvement for pork quality to provide a consistent and pleasurable pork eating experience for consumers.
De Vol DL, et al. 1988. Variation in composition and palatability traits and relationships between muscle characteristics and palatability in a random sample of pork carcasses. J Anim Sci. 66 (2): 385-395.
Lei H, at al. 2018. Influence of muscle pH and intramuscular fat on pork chop sensory acceptability. Advances in Pork Production, 29, Abstract #15.
Li X, et al. 2010. Investigation of porcine FABP3 and LEPR gene polymorphisms and mRNA expression for variation in intramuscular fat content. Mol Biol Rep. 37: 3931–9.
Zhang C, et al. 2014. Associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms in 33 candidate genes and meat quality traits in commercial pigs. Anim Genet. 45: 508–516.
This post was written by Genesus