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Consumer interest in non-traditional pork cuts rises

National Pork Board pork tacos.jpg
Consumers seeking more options in cuts, packages and value that fit their needs as they stay home.

Research shows that consumers have been interested in non-traditional cuts of meat in recent months, and new customers have been drawn to pork, according to Angie Krieger, vice president of domestic marketing at the National Pork Board.

Research conducted by Numerator showed that when the pandemic began, 44% of ground pork purchasers had not bought the product during the previous 12 months. Between March and May, 11.5% of consumers made at least two ground pork purchases. According to National Pork Board research, consumers said taste, leanness and flavor in ethnic dishes were the main reasons they chose ground pork.

Krieger noted that consumers also sought smaller cuts, value-sized packs or packages that allow them to save some extra meat in the fridge or freezer for later. For example, during Easter, ham slices and boneless quarter- and half-hams were all big sellers, according to Nielsen Easter 2020 research. Sliced, canned, cubed, diced and julienned options all saw sales jump compared to 2019, especially among younger consumers. 

“These insights show consumers are on the lookout for more options that fit their needs as they stay home more often during the pandemic,” Krieger said.

To capitalize on these insights, one regional retail partner featured cuts such as quarter-sliced hams and ground pork during National Pork Month. Another shared fall recipes featuring ground pork -- such as chili, nachos and egg roll bowls -- through web promotions, blog posts and social media. Each of these campaigns highlighted non-traditional cuts and introduced consumers to new pork recipes or favorite recipes presented in a new way with pork.

Promotions featuring these cuts can help win increased sales, Krieger said.

“As the pandemic continues into the winter months, we expect non-traditional cuts to continue to receive strong consumer interest,” she added.

At-home dining takes largest share

Data show that dining at home has regained the largest share of wallet this year, and Krieger said that isn’t expected to recede from current levels until 2023. IRI data revealed that more families are looking for eating-at-home help, and they want solutions the whole family will enjoy as well as options that are easy and allow for fewer fresh shopping trips.

National Pork Board research has found that one in three families have been trying new recipes over the past six months.

To meet these at-home dining needs and spark fresh meal ideas, one large retailer used the month to promote recipes that allow consumers to “cook once and eat twice.” Through an email marketing campaign, the retailer paired a digital coupon with recipes for pork loin roasts and chops, including boneless pork loin roast with an herbed pepper rub, peachy pork picante, southwestern pork and bean soup and “sweet fire” porterhouse pork chops.

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