Did you know that over the past six years, pork has been the fastest-growing protein in foodservice? It’s up over 1.14 billion pounds since 2011, according to Technomic, Inc.’s 2017 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice, more than double the next fastest growing protein (chicken added 515 million pounds). This biannual study found on a percentage basis, pork grew at three times the rate of the next fastest growing protein (turkey), 3.6 percent versus 1.2 percent. In fact during this time period, pork represents 61 percent of all protein growth in the foodservice industry (1,145 billion pounds of a total growth of 1,867 billion pounds).

The pork category continues to increase in foodservice, with a growth rate of 0.8 percent from 2015 to 2017. Totaling 5.9 billion pounds, the growth reflects a volume increase of 114 million pounds over the 2013 to 2015 time period.

Processed pork continues to be a strong performer in foodservice, making up the majority of the total volume. The five largest categories driving pork category growth are bacon, processed ham, breakfast sausage, ribs, and pepperoni. Collectively, the categories represent 66 percent of the total volume. The love of bacon shows no signs of slowing as it represents the largest share of volume, at 20 percent, or 1.2 billion pounds, growing 4 percent since 2015.

“We are pleased to see continued growth of pork use in foodservice,” said Stephen Gerike, director of foodservice marketing and innovation for the National Pork Board. “We know that processed pork is a strong performer due to ease of use and flavor profiles – people love ham, bacon and sausage! But fresh pork also presents a huge opportunity. It offers a range of cuts and applications, and its ability to accept flavors allows savvy operators to deliver a variety of authentic and innovative dishes, not to mention the value has never been better. Fresh pork allows operators to deliver what consumers want and turn strong profits.”

As consumers demand more interesting flavor profiles and global cuisine, there has been an increase in authentic fresh pork applications. Since 2015, carnitas showed a compound annual growth rate of 5 percent and porchetta had a 15 percent increase since 2015. Notable growth in fresh pork also was seen in belly, chops and ground pork.

Over the past two years, limited-service and full-service restaurants represented the largest user groups of pork in foodservice, accounting for 67 percent of all pork volume. The growth in limited-service restaurants has been mainly driven by the all-day breakfast additions by major chains.

In the categories where both uncooked and pre-cooked forms exist, pre-cooked pork has grown at a faster rate over the past two years, respectively growing at 4.7 percent and 0.9 percent. This growth can be attributed to packer/processors innovation and the ability to deliver quality pre-cooked products that address the labor challenges many operators face.

On an overall basis, the usage of pork is fairly evenly split among the three main dayparts, with snacking representing a small share of volume, which is consistent with the 2013 and 2015 Volumetric Study findings. However, lunch has taken one share point away from dinner overall since 2015. This can be attributed to the extension of breakfast menu items to other dayparts, with lunch being the key beneficiary of all-day breakfast. In addition, slowing traffic in the dinner daypart, especially among full-service restaurants, is a factor.

Pork continues to deliver on key criteria for both operators and consumers. And menuing pork presents a unique opportunity for operators to grow their businesses and be profitable. For more information on the 2017 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice or to find out how pork delivers across the menu, please contact the National Pork Board at (800) 456-7675 or at foodservice@pork.org.