Give ‘em what they want is the credo of getting consumers to buy a product and having them come back for more. Figuring out what consumers want is the tough part.

While consumer preferences are fickle and widespread, an increasingly common denominator in the food arena is convenience. That’s not to short change taste, which is the hook for repeat purchases.

The National Pork Board has wrapped up its 5th Annual Consumers Choice Pork Awards and five products came out on top. New to this year’s competition is the Esteemed Trendsetters Award, given to pork products that are unique and innovative.

The key to it all, however, is the fact that consumers select the winners. “Food-industry professionals chose 10 finalists from a pool of entries and consumer judges score them on taste, product appeal, lifestyle fit and purchase intent,” says Becca Hendricks, NPB’s strategic marketing manager.

“Consumers are looking for great-tasting products that are versatile and fit their lifestyles,” she notes. “The judges thought each product provides variety, convenience and great taste.”

So, the winners of this year’s Golden Fork trophies are:

  • Johnsonville Heat and Serve Mild Italian Sausage: This sausage offers well-balanced flavor, with a spicy kick. A pre-cooked product, it comes in a microwaveable package, with a grilled appearance. The recloseable package offers flexible serving size and can be used as needed.
  • Iowa Quality Meats Prime Rib Roast: This enhanced, fresh pork product features lots of flavor and tenderness, creating an easy family meal. Consumer judges commented on its heartiness and homemade appearance. It offers cooks the flexibility to make satisfying dinners during the week or for more formal events.
  • Tyson Vegetables and Pork Butt Roast: This convenient kit allows cooks to create a quick, easy, great-tasting meal. The kit comes with a fresh pork roast, seasonings and vegetables that are cut up and ready to cook. 
  • Hormel Southwestern Carnitas: Bringing diversity and ethnic appeal to mealtime, this pork product is a Hispanic specialty. Real tomato bits lend a sense of freshness. The judges cited the tenderness and spicy flavor as authentic yet mild enough for the entire family.
  • Hormel Pork Chops and Gravy: Another pre-cooked product featuring lean, thin-sliced meat and special gravy appealed to the judges. The all-in-one bag and box package options offer the convenience that today’s consumers want. 

In addition to receiving  the Golden Fork trophy, winners have exclusive use of the program’s official seal for merchandising efforts.

“The Esteemed Trendsetters Awards allow for additional recognition for innovative products and their contribution to the industry,” says Hendricks. This year’s winners include:

  • Spa Cuisine from Lean Cuisine, Pork with Cherry Sauce: “This product presents a breakthrough for pork by providing a single-serving entrée in the frozen-foods’ section,” notes Hendricks. The product’s packaging offers convenience as it can go from the freezer to the microwave.
  • Iowa Quality Meats Fully Cooked Pork Drummies: As an appetizer or entrée, this product is tender, juicy and can be heated in minutes. It offers an alternative to chicken tenders, and it presents a new use for an underutilized cut.
  • Farmland Nutrition Wise Fresh Pork: This new line of fresh pork is an advancement in the health-food category. These pork products are low in carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol and sodium. A breakthrough in packaging, the products come in net weight UPC scannable packages.