Consumers want great taste, comfort and convenience from their food choices, and this year’s winners of the second annual Consumers’ Choice Pork Awards contest offered those traits and more.

The awards honor retail products that score high on taste, product appeal, fit into lifestyle trends and purchase intent.

The National Pork Board sponsored contest generated more than 80 entries submitted from pork producers, consumers, industry experts, manufacturers and retailers. A panel of industry experts narrowed the field to 10 finalists, which were then judged by consumer panelists in two cities. This year’s winning products are:

  • Pork Roast Au Jus from Hormel Foods Corp. This product was applauded for being moist and tender, as if it had been cooked for hours. Comments included “a meal that seems like homemade, but can be prepared in very little time.”
  • Heat & Serve Brats from Johnsonville Sausage. This was among the favorites because of its “fresh, grilled taste,” available without the hassle of grilling.
  • Quick’n’Easy Gourmet Entrees Pork Roast in Bourbon Sauce from RMH Foods. The roast was chosen for its unique and flavorful bourbon sauce. Consumers praised it for being tasty, tender and convenient. It can be ready in minutes when cooked in the microwave.
  • Jimmy Dean Fresh Taste. Fast! Black Pepper Premium Precooked Bacon Slices from Sara Lee Foods. The consumers said this product offered a twist on traditional bacon, selected not only for its flavor, but also for its easy, no mess, microwave preparation.
  • Maple and Brown Sugar Glazed Ham from Tyson Foods. This product stood out for its sweet flavor. Its pre-sliced servings offer a quick-and-easy preparation and a taste that’s close to homemade.

“This year’s winners are all pre-cooked products, pointing to the need for quick, easy-to-fix entrees,” notes Karen Boillot, NPB’s retail marketing director. “But, these products also exemplify pork’s versatility.”

The winning products can use the official Consumer’s Choice Pork Awards winner's seal in merchandising efforts. They also benefit from an NPB consumer publicity campaign. 

“The rich pool of entries spoke to the industry’s effort of providing products with the consumer in mind,” says Tom Floy, NPB member and a pork producer from Thornton, Iowa. “The nominations mirror today’s food trends, with a desire for convenience and great taste.”

During the judging, consumers stressed the important role convenience plays in food purchasing decisions. Of course, convenience may mean different things to different people. To some, it means the meal is prepared in only a few minutes. To others, it may mean that the product requires no additional ingredients for preparation.   Still others might identify convenience as cooking and serving in a single dish, minimizing clean up.

Certainly this year’s award winners fit the bill on convenience. But what set these products apart, notes Floy, is taste. Flavors were described as “close to homemade,” “flavorful” and “unique.”

Products that made the semi-final cut and were recognized for innovation include:

  • Peppercorn Pork Chops, Hormel Foods Corp.
  • Carefree Cookin’ Garlic Teriyaki Pork Strips, Farmer John.
  • Applewood Smoked Bacon, Hormel Foods Corp.
  • Snack-Size Honey Ham Deli Meat, Hormel Foods Corp.
  • Sopressata Calabrese, Busseto Special Reserve.

For more information about the Consumer’s Choice Pork Awards and the winning products, or for information on nominating a product for next year’s awards, contact Becca Hendricks at (515) 223-2788, or via e-mail at