Pork Checkoff Vice President of Domestic Marketing Jarrod Sutton outlines the latest efforts with Subway. New pork sandwiches are being featured for a limited time. Sutton also emphasizes the importance of bacon to the foodservice sector.
Jarrod Sutton, Vice President Domestic Marketing, National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:00 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s Pork Pod. Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff, and today our guest is Jarrod Sutton, vice president of Domestic Marketing for the National Pork Board. Jarrod, it’s always exciting to see the collaboration the Pork Checkoff has with some of the big players out there in the foodservice sector. There’s a project underway right now with Subway. Tell us about it.
Jarrod Sutton: 00:31 These are interesting times, to say the least, Don, as we look at the market situation. And certainly expansion in pork production has presented a lot of opportunities for our domestic customers and our job here at the National Pork Board, the Pork Checkoff, is to make sure that those companies are well aware of the opportunity that pork presents. And so thankfully we’ve got a tremendous amount of momentum in our favor. And when you look at how consumer eating trends are changing, how the food trends certainly influenced that, certainly a surplus in supply, just kind of the stars and planets are aligning for customers of ours here domestically to be successful with pork. And Subway, that’s certainly a great example of one company who’s taken advantage of all of that. And we’ve worked closely with the team at Subway. They’re based out of Milford, Connecticut, and really doing some innovation in terms of the sandwich offerings that really feature pork.
Jarrod Sutton: 01:25 Of course, bacon has been a longtime staple in the Subway menu and they continue to use a lot of bacon and their customers and the folks that are patronizing Subways across the country, uh, have a, have a strong demand for bacon products. And I think that’s a great leverage for us because of the popularity of bacon, to really introduce some new product concepts. And many people are probably aware of Subway and their experimentation with pulled pork sandwiches in the past. Those have been really successful for Subway. They call them limited time offers for a reason. It’s to give it a nice jolt, to generate some interest and drive some traffic in the stores. Um, and clearly the pulled pork sandwich has, has successfully done that in the past. They put a new twist on it now and it’s actually offered in a wrap.
Jarrod Sutton: 02:12 They’re calling it their Crunchy Signature Wrap. And I think that’s an interesting twist with pulled pork because it’s incredibly versatile, and so far so good. It launched on August the first and so far the numbers and early indications are that it’s been well received by Subway shoppers. But that doesn’t, it’s not, it doesn’t stop there. What Subway’s doing is trying three different sandwiches, at various locations around the country. And, and so you may not see all three of them in one Subway, but you’ll see two out of the three in a Subway. The other two besides the Pulled Pork Crunchy Wrap is a Cubano Sandwich, just Cuban Sandwich. So it’s pork loin and it’s really chopped up and pulled. So it’s much like the pulled pork wrap, but it also includes ham on the sandwich as well, so the Cuban Sandwich. And then the third and the newest one is a rib meat sandwich, so it’s formed and portioned rib meat and that’s being promoted as a limited time offer in select markets for Subway around the country. So they’re calling it a Riblet Sandwich. And again, the compliments of the Cubano and, and the pulled pork sandwich along with bacon. Just a tremendous activity in a large national and really global foodservice operator at Subway. And so far the results from, from its launch on October, or excuse me, August the first have been very positive. So a great opportunity here.
Don Wick: 03:38 You mentioned bacon in your conversation. We know what’s been happening in the pork belly market. It’s got to create some value, I think, for foodservice and retailers. How do you see that positioning as we move through the balance of this year and into next?
Jarrod Sutton: 03:52 Interesting question because I get it a lot, Don, as Vice President of Domestic Marketing at the National Pork Board. There’s an interest in, really, will this bacon phenom slow? And my job is to ensure that it doesn’t. And quite frankly, there is no signs whatsoever that it will. And I think that’s important for a number of reasons. Obviously it has been a tremendous value for pork producers, but clearly it’s meeting a need for a large segment of the US population. We eat bellies here differently than countries around the world. And we definitely are seeing more interest and menuing of pork belly, including on fast food restaurant chains like Arby’s, but that has not eroded or taken away from the bacon sales. Bacon is on 71 percent of US menus. And that’s, you know, a big number. But think about that.
Jarrod Sutton: 04:50 The restaurant industry in the US is a massive industry. And so that 71 percent of menuing, it’s defined as ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. And the interesting thing is, as we look at our data, Don, that menu trend on 71 percent of menus now is actually up one percent versus 2017, and it’s up four percent over the last four years, and it’s up five percent from 2008. So in 10 years we continue to grow. There’s no signs of it slowing down. You can track who is eating bacon, who likes bacon. The mid-scale range, the medium would be a score of 50 based on data from our partners at Data Centrals and Menu Trend monitoring. And we’re scoring on a low of 98, on a high of 100, which of course is the highest and that’s across gender, men and women. It’s from generation Z to millennials to boomers, age, White, Black, Hispanic, Midwest, South, West, with kids, without kids.
Jarrod Sutton: 05:55 I mean it is ubiquitous. And I love that term because there’s all kinds of innovation that continues to happen with bacon. My favorite would be what Logan’s Steakhouse offered, or has offered and continues to offer over the summer here, which is bacon on a stick. It’s an entree item with fries and it’s doing really, really well. And it’s been a great success story. So Don, I think for us as an industry, let us not forget how important bacon is, not only from a value proposition from a producer perspective, but also the flavor and just the overall satisfaction that bacon offers to the American consumer. It’s a great story.
Don Wick: 06:34 You mentioned Subway, and briefly, Arby’s. Are there other promotions and other collaborations that should be noted?
Jarrod Sutton: 06:44 Yeah, this is the time to move volume and certainly with, with production where it is and the value proposition that pork offers, it’s fun to talk about innovation and introducing new products through restaurant chains like Subway and Arby’s and Culver’s and the like. We also want to make sure that we’re deeply engaged with our retail partners. The grocers can move a tremendous amount of volume and when you think about where we want to apply our focus, it’s everywhere, but we absolutely want to be relevant and, and deeply engaged with those top 10 retailers across the country. I could line 10 of them up, Don, and you’d have, you know, almost 65 percent of the grocery business done in this country. And so that’s who we need to be targeting and relevant with and we are. We’re working with Walmart and creating an influencer campaign that is very targeted in the digital space where, you know, YouTubers that are incredibly influential, with literally tens of millions of followers, are talking about pork.
Jarrod Sutton: 07:46 They’re talking about pork at Walmart and that gets Walmart excited. They are buying more pork and as a result, selling more pork. And so that’s all good. We’re doing some work with Costco and Sam’s Club, which is of course Sam’s Club, part of the Walmart business group. I’d like to celebrate, you know, some work that’s been done with a retail chain on the East Coast and that’s called Ahold and Delhaize, which most people probably aren’t familiar with because their banners don’t say that. It’s Stop and Shop in Boston. It’s Giant stores in Washington DC and New York and Philadelphia. It’s Food Lion down in the Carolinas. But that chain is all under one banner, one umbrella. That’s called Ahold Delhaize. We have a tremendous amount of activity that’s happening right now to celebrate pork, and so it’s about those three core components to driving tonnage, driving demand.
Jarrod Sutton: 08:36 It’s about, you know, positioning pork, merchandising it the right way, how you talk about the pork loin. The stores at Food Lion are implementing the new nomenclature strategy and calling, you know, taking the assorted pork chops packages and breaking those up and calling them ribeye chops and porterhouse chops. And then you have the preparation techniques which, most notably, as a feature focus on the endpoint temperature, Cook it Like a Steak, and use that 145 with a three minute rest as our anchor message on everything that we do. And then the third piece is really about, you know, the quality, the consistency and the quality of the product which includes handling and you know, all the things that happened back of house. It’s really about a focus from the leadership, from top down, to store execution, labels on the package. You know, the meat set has changed. There is information on the bags, there are kiosks that consumers interact with at each of those stores, and it’s really a pork focus, from August one through the end of the year. There’ll be a tremendous amount of product that rolls through those stores, in particular. It’s one example of activity that we have with retailers across the country.
Don Wick: 09:50 Jarrod Sutton from the Pork Checkoff. Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.