Three Keys for Pork in Asian Foodservice Trends

When we look at pork’s popularity in multicultural cuisine, two types of dishes always stand out – Hispanic and Asian. Coincidentally, these dishes are also what today’s consumers are craving.
A 2018 Chain Analyzer report from Datassential revealed 51% of consumers crave Mexican and Latin pork dishes, and 48% crave Asian pork dishes. Earlier this year, our issue brief talked about the natural affinity for pork among Hispanic consumers, as well as the increasing popularity of Latin dishes at-home and away from home. We plan to take a deeper look at the Hispanic market in a report coming in October, but we haven’t really touched on pork’s opportunity in the world of Asian food.

 

Asian cuisine is positioned to be an incredible opportunity for pork growth. Menu adoption trend lines show a recent increase in popularity that extends beyond Chinese food. According to Datassential Foodservice data, the most popular types of Asian cuisine in the U.S.(aside from Chinese) are Thai and Japanese, with Vietnamese and Korean cuisine on the rise.

 

To ensure we can all help pork capitalize on this growing trend, here are three things you need to know about Asian cuisine as it relates to pork:

Asian cuisine already has a presence on many in-store restaurant, retail and grab-and-go menus. 

  • Asian menu callouts can now be found on 31.4% of U.S. restaurant menus. Several types of Asian cuisine have seen double-digit growth, including: Thai (+14%), Japanese (+15%), Korean (+36%) and Vietnamese (+24%).
  • Asian ingredients like gochujang, coconut milk and sesame seeds have all seen double-digit growth in the past year.
  • Over half of consumers say they love or like Asian food, and Millennials embrace Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai food more than any other generation – think sushi, pho and pad thai.


Pork pairs well with Asian flavors,
and provides an authentic experience.

  • Many ethnic dishes already regularly feature fresh pork, including a variety of Asian dishes.
  • Foodservice operators at retail routinely offer Asian-inspired dishes like fried rice, dumplings and pot stickers – many of which include pork.
  • A variety of convenient, Asian-themed dinner solutions with fresh pork are available in grocery stores, including pre-marinated options with Asian flavors. Some even have “gluten-free” and “no artificial ingredients” labels.

Asian-inspired LTOs are performing well.

  • Pork LTOs with a lighter/healthier twist have incorporated leaner cuts like pork tenderloin.
  • For flavor-forward LTOs, pork belly can be incorporated in a variety of ways.
  • LTOs that have seen great success include our protein-packed Thai pork bowl, Major Miso’s pork belly and fried chicken bowl and an Asian pork belly breakfast bowl.

As Asian cuisine continues to gain traction, we can’t let pork lose any ground. It has a natural home in numerous Asian dishes, and if we don’t continue to work with operators, pork can easily get substituted for other proteins

Angie Krieger

Angie Krieger

Assistant Vice President, Channel Outreach

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