Pork is a Powerhouse for Protein-Focused Diets

The idea of eating healthy is hardly new for American consumers. However, the way consumers approach health is constantly changing.


One of the most recent diet trends is the protein-focused diet. According to research we commissioned by Nielsen, protein is an important consideration for 54% of consumers when buying foods, and 5% say someone in their household follows a protein-focused diet. What’s more, is that meat remains the top protein choice, despite a growing category of plant-based protein alternatives.


This diet isn’t just popular at home, though. A recent “Healthy Dining Trends” report from Mintel stated that 33% of diners ranked protein as the most important health attribute sought when dining out, outranking all other attributes, including “multiple vegetable servings.”

According to  NPD Eating Patterns in America 2018, consumers are seeking protein more than ever before, so that information needs to be prominent. In light of this, we need to ensure consumers are aware that pork is an excellent source of protein.

Store signage and displays at POS, especially around lean cuts like tenderloin, should feature messaging that showcases pork as an excellent source of protein.
As for restaurant operators, menu items featuring pork should have an “excellent source of protein” label. Pork LTOs can also be created and promoted, calling out pork as a protein hero. As we saw in our Datassential’s screens last week, pork medallion skewers, a grilled pork tenderloin apple salad and the Thai pork bowl are all protein-packed options that scored well among consumers. Unique dishes with a punch of protein are attractive to consumers and could draw in a slew of new customers.


Additionally, we should implement messaging and protein dish examples from the USDA’s MyPlate program. Simple explanations of pork’s nutritional value can reinforce pork’s healthy role in a balanced diet.

Protein-focused diets may only be among many modern diet trends consumers are paying attention to, but the data suggest it’s one we should jump on. Pork has a real opportunity to message its health benefits, so we have to make sure we help it thrive.
Have you seen any restaurant chains or grocery stores experiment with incorporating more protein options into dishes? If so, let us know. We welcome any ideas on how to elevate the visibility of pork among consumers seeking an excellent source of protein.

2019 Volumetric Study Now Available

We recently commissioned Datassential to research nationwide pork sales from 2017-2018. This Volumetrics study examined sales volume and figures from more than 50,000 restaurant operators and provided groundbreaking insights on how different pork categories and cuts are performing across the country.
Here are five things you should know:

  1. Processed pork accounts for nearly 80% of all pork sales at food service, with bacon leading the pack.
    A third of all pork sales are bacon. Beyond bacon, processed pork dominates sales, with breakfast sausage as the second highest-selling cut (11.9%) and ham the third (9.8%). Fresh pork cuts including ribs (8.7%) and shoulder (7.2%) round out the top five highest-selling cuts. 
  2. LSR chains accounted for nearly half of all pork purchases in the U.S. 
    Independent full-service restaurants (FSRs) are a distant second with 12%, but still move a significant amount of processed and fresh pork. 
  3. In pounds, total pork sales rose by 3% between 2017 and 2018. 
    Most of the largest gains were seen in the segments that are gaining overall traction in the marketplace – LSRs, C-stores, K-12 and lodging. 
  4. Among all foodservice operators surveyed, only 36% select a dish before purchasing the protein. 
    Nearly two-thirds (64%) choose the protein and decide on a dish later, meaning availability may help determine menu decisions or a willingness to experiment.
  5. Processed, ready-to-eat items saw substantial gains.
    Breaded and formed pork products, such as meatballs, saw a 14% growth, while miscellaneous ready-to-eat items containing pork, such as eggrolls and tamales, saw 51% growth.

Let me know if you’d like more information from the
2019 Pork Volumetric Study!

Angie Krieger

Angie Krieger

Assistant Vice President, Channel Outreach

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