People age 50 and over, tend to link their diet with their health. A new consumer research survey, “Boomers and Beyond: Marketing Food to the Over-Fifties” reports, 94 percent of the respondents say those factors go hand-in-hand.

The big news from the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s survey is that 43 percent of the respondents are trying to cut back or stop eating meat, while almost half are doing the same with carbohydrates.

Some of the survey’s other findings include:

  • The 50-plus crowd watch what they eat – 81 percent read nutritional labels; 47 percent are less likely to buy products without such labels.
  • This particular group of consumers is most interested in fat and calorie content, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, fiber and serving size.
  • 85 percent of respondents are eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • 79 percent of respondents have cut back on high-fat food.
  • 73 percent are trying to eat more high-fiber foods.
  • 73 percent are cutting back on high-cholesterol foods.
  • 68 percent are reducing high-calorie foods.

Another interesting note, the 50-plus consumer isn’t too intrigued by organic foods. The study shows that 8 percent buy organic foods, while 49 percent never buy organic. Higher product cost is the biggest reason cited for the low numbers.

These consumers, however, are wary of genetically modified foods. They tend to be leery of food additives that suggest the food isn’t totally “natural”.

The survey shows tremendous insight into the purchasing patterns of a consumer segment that continues to dominate the marketplace. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 27.3 percent of Americans are age 50 and older. Certainly younger consumers offer more long-term purchasing potential, but pork has an opportunity to cater to this 50-plus crowd because of the healthful and nutritious attributes that fresh pork products offer.

New Product: Pork Chops on a Stick
Consumers can now buy one of the Iowa State Fair’s hottest selling food items, “Pork Chops on a Stick”, at their local HyVee grocery stores.

Each chop is specially cut with the full rib bone attached so that consumers can hang on to it while they’re eating the meat, or it can be served on a plate like any other pork chop.

“The big draw is the outstanding flavor and consistency,” says Noel Johnson, Midwest sales manager for Iowa Quality Meats. “Consumers are getting a restaurant-quality product in a retail package.”

The Iowa Pork Producers Association began selling the unique chops at the fair’s Chop Shop in 1999. In response to the tremendous success with consumers IPPA officials began working with Iowa Quality Meats, the Clive, Iowa, chop supplier, to design a retail package. IPPA sold 35,000 of the chops at the 2001 state fair.

Pork Chops on a Stick are now available in the store’s frozen-food section. They are packaged in a resealable, two-pound plastic bag, with an IPPA label. Each bag contains four to six deep-basted chops, with the chops frozen and individually packaged to maintain maximum quality. A two-pound bag costs about $9.99.

Johnson estimates that 60 HyVee stores now carry the Pork Chops on a Stick. So far, Iowa Quality Meats has sold about 14,000 to 15,000 pounds of the product since introducing it as a retail item for HyVee in mid-August.

Americans Love BBQ and Pulled Pork
Two pork items made the elite list of foods showing the largest sales increases. The 2001 Restaurants and Institutions Menu Census shows that the barbecued pork sandwich ranks 5th and pulled-pork ranks 12th among foods showing the greatest increases in restaurant sales. The pulled-pork sandwich, made from the shoulder cut, rose 59 percent from the same survey conducted two years ago.

The survey notes that another positive trend in casual dining is that there are more barbecued pork sandwiches and other pork entrees, especially pork chops, on restaurant menus today. For those casual-dining restaurants planning to add a meat dish to their menus, pork tenderloin is the most likely option. The survey also shows that ethnic cuisines usually represented in restaurants are Mexican, Tex-Mex and Chinese. The National Pork Board targets national pork checkoff funds toward Hispanic marketing efforts. NPB plans to do more focused advertising and promotion toward that segment this year.