Pork has been foodservice's fastest-growing protein in each of the past two years, according to results from Technomic, Inc.'s latest survey.
According to the Pork Checkoff, the study noted that total pork sold through foodservice outlets reached a record-breaking 9.25 billion pounds, reflecting a volume increase of 462 million pounds over the 2011 survey. The 2.6% increase outpaced the total protein growth average of 0.8% and the 1.5% total growth of the foodservice industry itself.
"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 has driven growth of the total pork category, increasing by 3.5% on an annual basis. Sales of processed pork also grew 2.3%, largely driven by sales of ham, breakfast sausage and bacon. Sales of these traditional breakfast meats represent 56% of the carcass-weigh equivalent.
Gerike said 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.
The study also showed that of the 24 pork product categories reviewed, 22 demonstrated positive growth in sales.
On a per-pound basis, bacon grew the most between 2011 and 2013, up 102 million pounds. Carnita meat – a traditional Mexican preparation of pulled or diced shoulder of pork – shoulder/butt and pulled pork grew the fastest by percent with a compound annual growth rate of 8%, 6.6% and 6.4% respectively. Ground pork, Canadian bacon, whole loin, Italian specialty meats and ribs also demonstrated notable growth.
When it comes to the three major day parts – breakfast, lunch and dinner – pork is almost equally represented, but sales grew most aggressively in the areas of breakfast protein and snacks, Gerike said.
"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 noted.