≡ Menu

Menu Trend: Pork Is Making A Comeback

In our bid to help restaurants respond to the market’s yearning for authentic and diversified menu dishes, we’ve already featured here several menu and menu ingredient trends the past months – caramel, artisan food, Mediterranean cuisine, Latin American food and beverages as ingredients. Now, we shall talk about yet another food component hot in today’s list of ingredients in American restaurants: our love and hate relationship with pork.

Despite unfavorable sentiments about pork in the past two decades, it’s been found out that this meat is slowly paving its way back to the mainstream. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group released data that showed how consumers include pork in their diets the past year –a per capita rate of 48lbs in 2010, with higher statistics in 2009.

Earlier this March, the Pork Board initiated its pork campaign called “Pork. Be Inspired,” where they highlighted the versatility and flavor of pigs and hogs for both global and local cuisine. Restaurateurs now come up with creative ways to enhance their menu options, and saw how they can make use of pork as a way to make their menus and table tents more exciting and increase their restaurant’s bottom line.

Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar in Boston currently offers sumptuous pig roasts for parties of 10 or more, taking pork to new heights in Boston’s local cuisine and boosts its existing popularity. Qdoba launched their Street Tacos, and was able to successfully withstand questions about the health attributes of the slow-roasted pork featured in the dish. Quiznos presented their BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, while Subway also had their very own BBQ sandwich last July.

Technomics gave us a somewhat attention-grabbing consumer insight: it’s been found out that of those consumers who purchased pork this year, half of them do so for health and diet reasons. They needed to add protein to their daily diet, and almost half of them think of pork as a healthier option than other kinds of meat.

Qdoba’s Street Tacos is said to be a wonderful way to introduce customers to added protein options such as shredded meats. “Its gradually-cooked pork is simmered for about six hours or so, and in the process, a great deal of fat is released,” said Ted Stoner, Qdoba’s director of Strategic Product Development. “An order contains a mere 330 calories and presents 21 grams worth of protein,” he added.

“An interesting thing that was revealed was the fact that one of today’s most popular entrée in limited service dining places is pork ribs, with a prevalence rate of 13% since 2008,” said Matthew Mandeltort, Technomic’s senior consultant. “Other than pork ribs, restaurant consumers also express strong preference for pork chops, pork tenderloin, pulled pork, ham entrees and pizza topped with pork.”

Pork sandwiches, as always, make marvelous lunch choices, and consumers also love pizza that is topped with varied pork items like sausages and ham. Barbequed pork continues to hold on to its timeless appeal, being generally the most frequent and most highly-preferred preparation method for pork.

All these lead to the fact that restaurants should get on board and make use of pork in their menus and table tents, as protein ingredient once again flies high in the eyes of today’s consumers.