The Menu Disconnect: Where's the Pork?

New insights from the National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff show pork only holds a small portion of menu offerings. ( Alison Fulton )

Protein—the word that is changing consumer eating habits promises big opportunity for pork producers. But new insights from the National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff in the “All About Dining Out” report show that while pork is featured on more than 91% of menus as an ingredient, it only appears in 17% of entrees. When you remove bacon, sausage and pepperoni, the number drops considerably—less than 7% of menu entrees feature fresh pork.

Restaurant Food At Home

As the No. 1 consumed protein globally, pork is on-trend, a source of healthy protein and a vehicle for popular, experiential multicultural flavors and dishes. Consumers look for all these attributes in their meals; pork should be a shining star on menus.

Traditionally, we’ve looked at eating at home versus out of the home. But current trends have changed the game. American’s spend 50% of their food budgets on away-from-home meals, but they actually eat out less often then a few decades ago. Instead, they are taking foodservice meals home—ordering takeout and delivery from services like GrubHub and UberEats, where there are endless choices.

Convenience store foodservice sales reached about $38 billion in 2017, up 38% from 2012, with continued growth expected.

With these challenges, some restaurant chains thrive and others struggle, the report said. Hawaiian restaurants are opening at a faster than other cuisines, while Chinese and steakhouse growth is slowing.

Not only are more than half (51%) of consumers willing to try something new, more than 27% of consumers consistently look for something new to eat.

Consumers Personal Values Matter

Regardless of cuisine type, consumers expect higher quality—they want to feel good about the food they’re eating, whether that’s because it’s the highest quality or because the food options reflect their values. Concern for the environment (44%), where pork is sourced (44%), and how animals are treated (44%) were the most important factors in their pork choices.

Education is also needed. Restaurant operators think sales would increase if meat was marketed as “sustainably raised” or “antibiotic-free.”

Snacks and Fourth-Meal

Fewer consumers are eating three meals a day at traditional times than ever and the lines between dayparts are getting even more blurred. This offers an opportunity for foodservice operators to leverage these nontraditional dayparts with all-day offerings like snacks and appetizers to drive incremental business.

The report shows that foodservice operators could appeal to on-the-go eaters with pork substitute/spin-offs, such as pork nuggets, ground pork burgers, pork kabob wraps and other low-mess handheld offerings.

Want to learn more? You can download the full report here


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