Ham is an American favorite, but its retail value has been slipping since 1991—down 19 percent. Part of the decline can be attributed to the lack of new pork product development. There’s also the seasonality problem, consumers are used to buying hams for the Christmas and Easter holidays, but that’s it. Plus, consumers don’t always read labels to differentiate between a premium ham or a water-added ham, leading to confusion and potential disappointment.

  To help re-energize ham’s value by capitalizing on it’s taste and versatility, the National Pork Board is launching the “How ‘Bout Ham” campaign sometime in the first quarter of this year. The focus is to sell more holiday hams and feature ham as an ingredient in different dishes, as leftovers and lunchmeat. NPB also will continue its existing retail and foodservice programs.

Here are a few facts you might not know about ham:

  • Ham accounts for 20 percent of total pork and pork product volume and represents 19 percent of total value.
  • Retail ham sales increased 10 percent in 2001, while pounds sold grew by 2 percent. Bone-in hams represent the largest share in volume, but boneless ham sales are growing at a faster rate.
  • While ham production is relatively stable year-round, retail sales peak in April, November and December.
  • Ham steak sales remain fairly consistent year-round.
  • More than 60 percent of entrée ham is consumed during the winter and spring, and it’s typically for dinner.
  • Ham sandwiches are the most consumed sandwiches at home, mostly for lunch.
  • Ham as an entrée or in a sandwich, accounts for 30 percent of all in-home pork eatings. That’s the largest amount for any pork item.
  • Ham menu items have stabilized, but volume in foodservice continues to grow. It accounts for 17 percent of pork volume – a 4 percent gain since 1999.
  • Use at breakfast and in sandwiches account for nearly three-quarters of ham-based menu items.
  • Family restaurants and coffee shops feature the most ham menu items.