Clearing the Health Perception Hurdle

Here’s a fact that all of us in the pork industry need to stand up and take note of: An omnibus study conducted by Nielsen revealed that the majority of consumers (55 percent) say protein is important in their food choices, yet 63 percent of consumers do not believe pork tenderloin is high in protein — and this number is growing.

Now, many of us in pork marketing already know that the fresh, lean cuts of our preferred protein have a number of health benefits. It’s high in protein, low in fat, and a couple of cuts – the tenderloin and the sirloin – bear the American Heart Association’s “Heart Healthy” certification.

Tonight, about one in eight homes in America will have a Quick, Healthy Adult Meal. The cook in this occasion wants dinners that are light and healthy, not to mention a meal that’s on the table as quickly as possible. Lean, fresh pork and its nutrition profile would seem to be a natural fit for these cooks, but it’s not often considered. These diners reach for chicken, fish, and turkey to build their nutritious meals.

Why? Misconceptions about health and simplicity.

While those who eat Quick, Healthy Adult Meals rank “wanted something healthy” (80 percent) and “wanted a lighter meal” (45 percent) as critical influences on their meat choices, they don’t view pork chops as meeting these needs.

A larger percentage views pork tenderloin as meeting these needs – more so for this occasion than others – but pork tenderloin still lags ground turkey and salmon for fit.

Unfortunately, these misconceptions aren’t limited to those who are eating a Quick Healthy Adult Meal. Across all meal occasions, 46 percent of those planning to curb their fresh pork consumption cite health as the reason they don’t plan to eat more fresh pork in the future.
So how do we convince diners that fresh pork really is healthy? For many, it starts on pack and in store.

Quick, Healthy Adult Meals are more likely than other occasions to involve diners who read nutrition labels. Calling out pork’s protein, vitamin and mineral content, as well as its certified heart-healthy status, can increase pork purchases among these health-conscious consumers.


The National Pork Board has  two new retail point-of-purchase kits for 2019, one with a protein-focused message, the other highlighting the “heart healthy” certification of the tenderloin and sirloin. For more information on these kits, email Cory at

Pork tenderloin is best positioned to meet the needs of the Quick, Healthy Adult Meal occasion. Diners in this occasion already view pork tenderloin as flavorful, easy and requiring little thought to prepare. But they don’t perceive it as healthy as other meats.

In fact, our research shows that across all dining occasions, only 6 percent of diners view fresh pork as healthier than most other meats. Salmon and chicken lead as healthy-choice meats; pork tenderloin lags, but it does have a slight health perception edge compare to beef roast.

Overall, 11 percent of respondents evaluated fresh pork as one of the best sources of protein, which ranks the lowest among fresh meat and seafood.

These diners instead turn to chicken breast, even though pork tenderloin boasts better health attributes than skinless chicken breast.

Overcoming the health perception barrier could narrow the gap between pork tenderloin and chicken breast for this occasion. While those looking for a Quick Healthy Adult Meal choose chicken breast for its health attributes because it’s kept on-hand, the meat doesn’t rank as highly as pork tenderloin for flavor.

Once they discover this best-kept secret, they’ll discover that pork tenderloin is not only flavorful and easy, but healthy, too.

Want a bit more context on Quick, Healthy Adult Meals? Check out our brief video webinar!

Watch the webinar!

Want to put the data to the test?
I can help you craft an action plan.

Angie Krieger

Angie Krieger

Assistant Vice President, Channel Outreach

National Pork Board Cell: 319-594-4000