Spring 2021: Endless Opportunities for Pork - Pork Checkoff

Spring 2021: Endless Opportunities for Pork

April 21, 2021

Like the old adage that says, “April showers bring May flowers,” a similar maxim holds true for pork. You can sum it up by saying that April’s Easter ham dinner gives way to May’s Memorial Day cookout.

Transitioning from winter to spring and spring to summer means recipe selection and meal prep styles all shift. Many consumers are ready to explore new flavors and change everyday cooking routines. This is especially true as the general restlessness from a year-long pandemic and hopefulness on vaccine uptake increases.

Cooking Style Is King

It’s a great time to prime shoppers on new, exciting recipes, pork cuts and cooking styles that they are already searching for. As warmer weather moves meal prep from the oven and slow cooker to the grill and smoker, food retail leaders can capitalize on these changing patterns and optimize sales.


According to IRI social listening data, from winter to spring, there’s a 6% bump in skillet/stovetop mentions and an 18% spike in grilling and smoking.

Those social mentions jump another 20% from spring to summer as the outdoor-cooking techniques become a dominant food prep option.

Browsing National Pork Board’s cooking techniques resources is a great way to rethink how you promote your pork offerings year-round. Here’s a sample:

  • Oven: Pork chops and sausages are a simple, tasty, and juicy meal from this vantage point.
  • Slow Cooker: Pulled pork, like pork carnitas, can simmer and be spiced up however the eater likes.
  • Skillet: From pork chops to bacon, the stovetop masterfully cooks many options with top-notch temperature control.
  • Grill: Flavorful pork loins, a saucy rack of ribs, crisp hot dogs… The possibilities are endless for the summer grilling season.
  • Smoker: Drawing out rich, fatty flavors with pork shoulder or pork belly is a go-to.

But cooking technique is just the tip of the consumer preferences iceberg. Educating on how to power up flavorful meals or focus on healthy eating can also inspire consumers.

Fast Track Flavor Inspiration – Healthy Doesn’t Need to Mean Bland

Datassentials found that 58% of consumers were aspiring to have more healthful eating in 2021. Considering that spring social media mentions of light and fresh or healthy meals jumps 27% from winter, it’s a great time to be telling the story of Health and Wellness with Pork.

At nearly the same rate of “health eating,” 57% of consumers also wanted comfort foods. While “healthy eating” might not align with traditional comfort foods, 41% of those surveyed considered comfort food as something they ate growing up versus 37% that identified it as a “filling dish.”

Health is particularly important with Hispanic consumers, where the topic is critical and can be a barrier for this segment to consume more pork. In fact, National Pork Board research shows that Hispanics who claim to want to eat less pork in the future cite “health” concerns as a major reason. Yet, research also shows that Hispanics are looking for healthy dishes that do not sacrifice richness in flavor.

In Q1 of this year we launched Menú Urbano FRESH, a campaign aimed at positioning pork with Hispanics as a nutritious and flavorful protein in order to make them feel good about what they’re eating. The campaign featured traditional, authentic dishes prepared with the extra lean pork tenderloin and sirloin cuts, and highlighted fresh ingredients in all recipes. Ultimately, the message was that with pork, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to eat a nutritious meal.


A final takeaway worth reflecting on is that 42% of shoppers hoped to consume more spicy foods and flavors.

While MenuTrends data reveals that barbeque, jalapeno pepper and butter lead the flavor train at the foodservice level, retailers could compound the healthy habits goals with flavor if they focus on international options. A whopping 89% of consumers believe that Japanese or Mediterranean cuisines are either very or somewhat healthy.

Elevating the at-home cooking experience by promoting global recipes and flavors through campaigns such as Pork as a Passport can accomplish two things at once: healthy eating and a kick of flavor.

From honing in on the cooking style to inspiring with unique flavors, giving consumers opportunities to expand their pork preparation methods will serve retailers well. With limitless options to promote, pork can become the go-to this spring and summer for everything from weeknight dinners to holiday celebrations.

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