When Creativity is on the Menu, it’s Pork’s Time to Shine!

For many consumers, routines play a critical role in providing comfort, stability and structure in their day-to-day lives. That often extends into meal choices, opting to lean on familiar and favorite recipes to get dinner on the table in a hurry.

We’re absolutely not talking about those dinner occasions today.

Tonight, about 6% of those eating at home tonight will take the opportunity to inject some creativity and excitement into their day with something different for dinner. These meals fall under the Exploring New Flavors occasion.

Consumers experiencing this occasion actively seek out new recipes that skew healthy and nutritious, while delivering indulgent tastes. They seek out novel recipes that perfectly marry bold flavor with guilt-free and healthier ingredients. They also don’t want to break the bank trying enticing new flavors, so their creativity includes ways to maximize their shopping cart dollars.

These dinners are slightly more common among males (52%), with only about half identifying as white. Compared to other occasions, these meals are more likely to occur among African-American (13%, 126 Index), Asian (12%, 177 Index), or Hispanic (19%, 114 Index) diners. Half of these occasions involve the cook plus two to three others, and the occasion over indexes for having four or more at the table (23%).

These cooks are looking to create a healthy, flavorful meal that everyone (including kids) will enjoy. They often turn to proteins like steak, salmon, shrimp, and chicken wings or drumsticks as the canvas on which to paint tonight’s culinary masterpiece. Additionally, 40% of the meals served at this occasion rely on items packaged as a full meal or pre-marinated/pre-seasoned/sauced/breaded.

Loins and ribs are on the table during this occasion more than the others, but there is plenty of room for other fresh pork cuts to take center stage during an Exploring New Flavors evening.

While it’s the smallest at-home dinner occasion happening in homes on any given night, it’s the one that gives pork it’s big chance for success. Diners in this occasion are already moderate fresh pork consumers, but are looking to expand their palates and explore new preparations. They often are enticed by international flavors, including Mexican and Asian.

Which brings us to a bit of a conundrum: Pork is hands-down one of the most popular proteins used in Asia and Mexico, but only 9% of our in-home occasion survey respondents associated pork with Asian flavors and only 7% associate it with Mexican flavors.

There’s ample opportunity in this occasion to elevate pork’s versatility:

  • Show how it can be featured authentically in popular multicultural flavors
  • Satisfy the most adventurous taste buds in a healthy way
  • Do both of those things in a way that’s more affordable than seafood or steak

We can look to recent food-related web searches to learn what’s likely inspiring the Exploring New Flavors occasion. According to Google’s Year in Search 2018, a variety of trending ingredients can be easily paired with pork, such keto chili and gochujang, a red chile paste that’s popular in Korean meat dishes.

To lean into these trends, we need to provide cuts that come pre-marinated or paired with these trending ingredients, while continuing to emphasize pork’s versatility.  Because the Exploring New Flavors occasion skews toward impulse decisions, as well as purchasing pre-marinated/preseasoned meats, in-store demos and sampling will allow us to reach these shoppers and encourage trial when they’re feeling adventurous.

There may not be a better opportunity for pork than the Exploring New Flavors occasion: We can get in front of consumers who are feeding four or more people with healthy, authentic and affordable protein. With a great eating experience, these experimental meals can quickly become a Healthy Family Favorite, which bodes well long-term for more pork in the basket more often.

Want to learn more about Exploring New Flavors, check out the webinar below!

Check out Exploring New Flavors!

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 akrieger@pork.org