New food service study shows pork is fastest-growing protein

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With a growth rate outpacing all other proteins in the foodservice industry, pork is hot. According to Technomic, Inc.'s 2013 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice, pork is sustaining its popularity having become the foodservice industry's fastest-growing protein in each of the past two years.

This most recent study noted that total pork sold through foodservice outlets reached a record-breaking 9.25 billion pounds, reflecting a volume increase of 462 million pounds over 2011 when the survey was last undertaken. The 2.6 percent increase outpaced the total protein growth average of 0.8 percent and the 1.5 percent total growth of the foodservice industry itself.

"We are pleased to see such positive growth in foodservice, especially carnita meat, shoulder/butt and pulled pork," said Stephen Gerike, director of foodservice marketing for the Pork Checkoff. "The volumetric study shows that operators are leveraging pork's versatility."

Since 2011, fresh pork has driven growth of the total pork category, increasing by 3.5 percent on an annual basis. Sales of processed pork also grew 2.3 percent, largely driven by sales of ham, breakfast sausage and bacon. Sales of these traditional breakfast meats represent 56 percent of the carcass-weigh equivalent. Other study highlights include:

·         In categories where both uncooked and pre-cooked pork offerings exist, sales grew at about the same rate.

·         In categories where bone-in and boneless pork are available, sales of both versions have increased since 2011, with boneless growing at a slightly faster rate.

"Pork cuts can be used across the menu as a basis for many trending global recipes, as an individual ingredient or as a center-of-the-plate item," Gerike said. "It's also interesting to note that the popularity of pork spanned all day parts, and was not limited to morning or evening."

The Technomic, Inc. study also showed that of the 24 pork product categories reviewed, 22 demonstrated positive growth in sales. On a per-pound basis, bacon grew the most between 2011 and 2013, up 102 million pounds. Carnita meat - a traditional Mexican preparation of pulled or diced shoulder of pork - shoulder/butt and pulled pork grew the fastest by percent with a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent, 6.6 percent and 6.4 percent respectively. Ground pork, Canadian bacon, whole loin, Italian specialty meats and ribs also demonstrated notable growth.

"When it comes to the three major day parts - breakfast, lunch and dinner - pork is almost equally represented, but sales grew most aggressively in the areas of breakfast protein and snacks," Gerike said. "It's clear that pork is on the foodservice menu across all segments, and full-service and limited-service restaurants represent about two-thirds of all pork volume sold."

The Technomic, Inc. study reinforced results released by the USDA on August 23, 2013. As of July 31, 2013, frozen pork supplies held in inventory were down 3.5 percent from June. The reduction in frozen inventories, given slightly lower year-to-date pork production, lower exports and higher retail pork prices, reflects the strong pork demand seen since February.

For an infographic on the Technomic, Inc. study, click here.

The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at www.pork.org


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