Putting 3 “Health-Forward” Pork Dishes to the Test

As we saw in our All About Dining Out report, there’s an interesting dichotomy surrounding pork in away-from-home dining. Consumers often view pork as an indulgence, but are weighing the desire to treat themselves against wanting to eat healthy. Of course, we all understand the numerous health benefits of lean, fresh pork, but unfortunately, that knowledge isn’t exactly widespread amongst consumers – yet.

To assess consumers’ opinions of healthful pork dishes, we again partnered with our food industry market research friends at Datassential. They gathered 300 consumer reactions to images and descriptions of three unique, healthful pork dishes:

  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin Apple Salad
  • Pork Mediallion Skewers
  • Protein-packed Thai Pork Bowl

Here’s what we found:

Field greens topped with pork tenderloin and grilled apples, candied pecans, blue cheese vinaigrette and dried cranberries.
The Grilled Pork Tenderloin Apple Salad generated incredible results, outscoring 99% of other items tested for draw, 94% for uniqueness and 99% for frequency. For frequency and draw, it outscored all other salads tested by Datassential, achieving a nearly unheard of 100 frequency versus other salads and 100 draw versus other salads. In other words, this salad outscored every other salad in Datassential’s database.

Key Takeaways:
The data proves that this salad is a must-have for every restaurant menu. The sweet/umami combination is rare for salads and helps elevate pork’s stature in what will be viewed as a healthy dish. The salad can also be featured year-round by offering seasonal fruit variations, such as pears or berries.

A skewer of roasted pork medallions on a medley of fingerling potatoes, mushrooms, pearl onions and Brussel sprouts tossed in garlic and herb olive oil.
The Pork Medallion Skewers were a huge hit, outscoring 92% of all other dishes tested for draw, which measures consumers’ likeliness to visit somewhere just for this item, and it outscored 82% of all other dishes tested for uniqueness. In addition, it outscored 85% of other meat entrees (and 81% of all dishes) for frequency, which measures whether consumers would order it “all the time.”

Key Takeaways:

Pork medallion skewers are an everyday entrée addition that can help restaurants attract new health-conscious customers wanting to try unique dishes.

Quinoa, lean pork tenderloin, fresh herbs, shaved purple cabbage, carrots and ginger sauce.
Although it didn’t spark as much draw as the salad or skewers (63 draw compared to 99 and 92, respectively), the Protein-packed Thai Pork Bowl still performed very well for frequency and uniqueness. It outscored 84% of other dishes for frequency, and 70% for uniqueness.

Key Takeaways:

Considering the increased popularity of bowls (which were present on 32.6% of menus in 2018 according to Datassential) the Thai pork bowl’s scores indicate that it would be an excellent LTO. Its uniqueness and frequency are high enough to attract health-minded consumers, and could prove to be a general traffic driver as a featured item.

Overall, these three dishes performed very well and proved that consumers crave health-forward pork dishes. They place pork side-by-side with traditional health foods like quinoa, greens and fresh fruit, helping elevate pork as a healthful option.

Are there any healthful dishes you’ve had success with?
If so, send us an email. We’d love to hear how you’re incorporating fresh pork into your menus.

Angie Krieger

Angie Krieger

Assistant Vice President, Channel Outreach

National Pork Board Cell: 319-594-4000 akrieger@pork.org