Consumers want it all: good tasting, convenient and healthful pork products and the pork industry is answering the call.

The National Pork Board's new Consumer's Choice Pork Awards program is spotlighting five new pork products.

These products are examples of processors adding value to today's pork and giving the products more presence in the retail meat case.

"These products are showing up in the ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat sections. These are areas where you don't always see a lot of pork," says Karen Boillot, NPB's retail marketing director.

This activity is positive for the entire pork chain. New pork products also provide more flexibility for retailers by adding value to individual products. "The industry's new product segment continues to grow," adds Boillot. "This is becoming a stronger area of emphasis for retailers. They're realizing if they want to get ahead, they have to be ready to adopt new and innovative products like these top five."

This first, annual awards program recognizes retail pork products introduced to the marketplace after June 2000. The criteria for products involved taste, how well they fit busy lifestyles, overall product appeal and likelihood of purchase. In the end, consumers scored each product on those attributes to determine the winners.

The contest started in late 2001, with NPB asking for nominations from consumers, industry personnel, retailers and others across the country to identify the latest pork products that reflect shoppers' lifestyle needs. More than 50 entries were received representing a wide range of new, convenient products.

A panel of pork industry experts narrowed down the qualifying nominations to a pool of 10 finalists. From there, consumer focus groups in Chicago and Atlanta selected the top five pork products.

Let's take a look the consumers' top choices for today's new pork products:

  • Homestyle Seasoned Pork Roast with Gravy, created by John Morrell & Co and RMH Foods, was selected based on its winning combination of home-cooked flavor and convenient 10-minute preparation time.
  • Genuine Pulled Pork Bar-B-Que Slathered with Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sauce, created by Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, was recognized for its authentic barbecue taste and hassle-free, heat-and-eat preparation. It requires only two minutes of cooking time in the microwave.
  • Ready-to-Serve Bacon, created by Oscar Mayer Division, Kraft Foods North America, was a favorite among consumers because it is fully cooked and ready to serve or consumers can warm it in the microwave to add flavor to sandwiches, salads and other dishes.
  • Pork Chop on a Stick, created by Iowa Quality Meats, was not only a winner for its flavor, but also for its ease of storage and use due to its individually wrapped pork chops.
  • Thomas E. Wilson Italian Seasoned Pork Roast, created by IBP, Tyson Family Food Co., was chosen because of its preparation ease – it is preseasoned and pre-sliced. The cooking time can be as short as five minutes.

"There is not one motivator that drives the American consumers' shopping and purchasing decisions," says Phil Lempert, TODAY Show food trends editor, also called the 'Supermarket Guru.' "The versatility among these winning products reveals that America's pork producers understand the needs of today's consumers."

"This program is our effort to find new products that are on the market," says Boillot. "We knew there were a lot of new products out there that we weren't aware of. This program can help bring more attention to new pork products, and help them excel at the retail level."

Currently, the Consumer's Choice Pork Awards focuses on retail pork products. In the future, Boillot says NPB hopes to expand the program to include foodservice items.

For more information about Consumer's Choice Pork Awards, contact Becca Hendricks, NPB strategic marketing manager, at (515) 223-2788, or via e-mail at consumerschoice@porkboard.org.