A BIENNIAL volumetric assessment of pork in foodservice found that pork is outpacing all other proteins as the fastest-growing protein in the industry over the past two years.
The 2013 edition of the study by Technomic found that total pork sold through foodservice outlets reached a record 9.25 billion lb., reflecting a volume increase of 462 million lb. over 2011, the last year the survey was conducted. The 2.6% increase outpaced total protein growth of 0.8% and the 1.5% total growth of the foodservice industry at large.
Of 24 pork product categories reviewed in the study, 22 saw positive growth in sales. America's love affair with bacon led the largest growth on a per-pound basis, with bacon sales climbing 102 million lb.
However, on a percentage basis, it was carnita meat — a traditional Mexican preparation of pulled or diced pork shoulder— that saw the largest compound annual growth rate at 8%, followed by shoulder/butt at 6.6% and pulled pork at 6.4%.
"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 sales have increased 3.5% on an annual basis, leading growth in the total pork category. Strong ham, sausage and bacon sales pushed processed pork sales up 2.3%, with breakfast meats making up 56% of the carcass weight equivalent.
The study did not find major differences in growth rates between uncooked and precooked pork offerings in categories where both products are offered, but it did find a slightly faster rate in sales growth for boneless products over bone-in offerings.
"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 dayparts and was not limited to morning or evening."
Gerike said although pork was represented across all three major dayparts, sales grew most aggressively in the areas of breakfast and snacks.
"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," he said.
The checkoff noted that it continues efforts to educate consumers on proper pork cooking techniques.