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Pork Makes the Menu

pulled pork sandwich

In the search for innovative, profitable meaty menu items, head straight to pork. Whether it’s convenient bacon and pork chops or longer-cooking cuts such as shoulder and shank, pork hits all the important menuing criteria for foodservice, including versatility and ease of preparation, price/value ratio and consumer appeal.

In fact, pork is the fastest growing protein in foodservice—the category totaled 9.8 billion pounds in 2015, a volume increase of 2.6% (or 533 million pounds) over 2013, according to the 2015 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice, conducted by Technomic.

And consumers are driving this growth. As Technomic’s 2015 Center of the Plate Trend Report reveals, 29% of consumers surveyed would order pork more often at restaurants if it was available, including 38% of the influential 25- to 34-year-old cohort, and 30% of 35- to 44-year-olds.

Pork’s variety and versatility make it an unparalleled inspiration for new menu items in all dayparts—pork captures a 34% pound share of daypart volume at breakfast and lunch, and 28% at dinner (2015 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice, Technomic), giving it room to grow throughout the day.

  • Upgrade breakfast with a savory croque madame topped with ham, gruyere cheese sauce and a fried egg
  • Switch up lunch with a Latin-style Pork Belly Bao Bun
  • Offer a memorable dinner specialty of a Smoked Ribeye Pork Chop with freekah pilaf and seasonal vegetables
  • Leverage the late-night snacking trend with a Play on a Scotch Egg

Pork also is an easy fit in all menu categories, going beyond entrèes into appetizers, snacks, soups, salads and sandwiches. Side dishes are good vehicles for pork, too, including items like German potato salad and mustard greens with potlikker. It even takes a sweet approach in desserts, such as Maple Bacon Ice Cream.

As far as trends go, pork courts them all, with craveability to spare: comfort foods (Pork Cassoulet); classic favorites (Southern-Style Baby Back Ribs); live-fire cooking (Almond Wood-Grilled Tomahawk Pork Chop); regional specialties (Green Chili Pulled Pork); and premium indulgences (Pork Loin Roast for Two with Tuscan Kale).

And considering that pork is the most popular meat in the world, it’s not surprising that it brings authenticity and excitement to ethnic specialties and new global flavors. From Japanese Tonkatsu (panko-breaded pork cutlet) to Sticky Asian Pork Ribs to Cuban Mojo Pork Loin, pork is a globetrotting go-to.

These items and more demonstrate the many different applications that are possible with the wide array of pork cuts from the leg, loin, belly and shoulder, as well as the foot and head/jowl. New and portion-controlled fresh cuts, including popular boneless cuts, as well as pork products such as ham and sausage, mean that pork can differentiate any menu.

For more information, including recipes, visit the National Pork Board foodservice website www.porkfoodservice.org and sign up for their newsletter, the 400, and follow them on Instagram @pigandcleaver.

This post is sponsored by The National Pork Board

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