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Pork Becomes the Fastest-Growing Protein

pork carnitasWith a growth rate outpacing all other proteins in foodservice, pork is hot. Pork was the fastest-growing protein in the foodservice industry for the past two years, according to Technomic, Inc.’s 2013 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice.

“We’re pleased to see such positive growth in foodservice, especially carnita meat, shoulder/butt and pulled pork,” said Stephen Gerike, director of foodservice marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “The volumetric study shows that foodservice operators are leveraging pork’s versatility.”

Total pork sold through foodservice outlets reached a record-breaking 9.25 billion pounds, up 462 million pounds from the previous 2011 survey. The 2.6 percent increase outpaced the total protein growth average of 0.8 percent and the 1.5 percent total growth of the foodservice industry itself.

Since 2011, fresh pork has driven growth of the total pork category, increasing by 3.5 percent on an annual basis. Sales of processed pork grew 2.3 percent, largely driven by sales of ham, breakfast sausage and bacon.

America Still Loves Bacon
The study also showed that of the 24 pork product categories reviewed, 22 demonstrated positive growth in sales. On a per-pound basis, bacon grew the most between 2011 and 2013, up 102 million pounds.

Carnita meat, shoulder/butt and pulled pork grew the fastest by percent, with a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent, 6.6 percent and 6.4 percent respectively. Ground pork, Canadian bacon, whole loin, Italian specialty meats and ribs also demonstrated notable growth.

“When it comes to the three major foodservice day parts – breakfast, lunch and dinner – pork is almost equally represented, but sales grew most aggressively in the areas of breakfast proteins and snacks,” Gerike said.

Pork Sales Jumppork demand chart
The Technomic, Inc. study reinforced results released by the USDA in August. As of July 31, frozen pork supplies held in inventory were down 3.5 percent from June 30.

“With pork production high and domestic supplies up, this inventory shift is great news for our producers,” said National Pork Board President Karen Richter, Montgomery, Minn. “This market shift demonstrates that pork’s momentum has continued to build throughout the summer
grilling season.”

Consumers Respond in a Big Way
At the end of July, the Pork Checkoff completed its summer radio advertising campaign designed to bolster sales at a time of favorable consumer pork prices. The radio campaign also promoted the Pork Checkoff’s move to rename pork chop cuts.

The report of lower frozen inventories and increasing use of pork by the food-service industry occurred on the heels of both the consumer advertising/public relations campaign and planned promotions with major grocery retailers. The retail promotions featured the new porterhouse pork chop, ribeye pork chop and New York pork chop, with specific advice to cook pork chops “like a steak.”

“Our summer marketing efforts and consumer outreach efforts paid off,” Richter said. “By building relationships and launching promotional campaigns with America’s top food retailers, we witnessed a boon in pork sales.”

Consumer education about the value and versatility of pork and reinforcement of pork’s ideal cooking temperature also strengthened the Pork Checkoff’s key consumer messages.

“We listened to consumers and chose new pork cut names that enhance their value, with new, simplified labels better explaining proper cooking techniques,” Richter said. “The end result is prompting consumers to choose pork.”


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