Grilling Season is Firing Up
But How Do We Heat Up Pork Sales?

As the days get longer and temperatures rise, much of this country is excited to welcome spring, and, more importantly, grilling season.

Grilling has become one of America’s most popular cooking methods, with 79 percent of adults owning a grill and 32 percent planning to buy one in the next year, according to a 2018 Mintel report.

Considering cookouts tend to feature families or larger groups of people, pork is a natural fit. In a 2018 survey, we asked consumers about their affinity for pork and found that 27 percent of adults view fresh pork as a crowd pleaser, and that 21 percent believe fresh pork makes their family happy.

In addition, consumers who buy ribs and chops spend more overall. According to the 2018 grilling season analysis from Nielsen, consumers who bought both ribs and chops (either together on one trip or separately over multiple trips) throughout the analysis period had larger baskets totals than other consumers. Ribs and chops also overindex (base is 100) with African Americans (143) and Hispanic (120) consumers during grilling season. These consumers are more likely to consume pork chops and ribs during grilling season than any other demographic, according to a Nielsen study.

While this is great news for our industry, a gap still exists between belief and implementation. Despite their feelings about pork and what it can provide, many consumers are turning to other proteins. They’re defaulting to choices they view as “indulgent,” like steak and salmon, even though several pork cuts hold a similar quality.

So what are we missing? Why are consumers thinking about fresh pork differently?

It starts with elevating pork, while reinforcing its simplicity, versatility and flavor.

Pork gets stuck in the barbeque category, with ribs and pulled pork coming to mind when consumers think about grilling or smoking pork. While those options are certainly delicious, there’s so much more consumers can do with pork. Its various cuts allow for an endless possibility of grilled dishes, and we need to show consumers how they can enjoy it.

However, simply encouraging consumers to throw chops on the grill won’t cut it. We need to promote cuts and preparations that feel more special than a typical weeknight meal. These preparations can include ground tenderloin as an indulgent, healthy alternative to burgers. In addition, we can look to Latin-inspired preparations, such as Kan-Kan pork chops, which features the loin, belly and skin and are extremely popular in Puerto Rican cuisine.

Loin, belly and skin are all part of the Kan-Kan chop, a popular cut in Puerto Rico.

Looks even better on the grill, but it’s not an option widely available at retail.
We also need to remind consumers that grilling pork is as simple as grilling other proteins. Consumers are willing to splurge on steak, for example, because they know how to season and grill it. By adding detailed instructions to pork’s packaging, creating kits with popular seasonings and rubs and educating retail associates on pork messaging and preparation, we can help make pork a grilling season staple.

To learn more about grilling season and the ways larger groups celebrate and dine together, watch our brief webinar.

Learn More About the “Family, Flavor, Fun” Dining Occasion

Is our data helping guide your decisions?
Let me know how!

Angie Krieger

Angie Krieger

Assistant Vice President, Channel Outreach

National Pork Board Cell: 319-594-4000