National Pork Board uncovers what diners crave and why

The National Pork Board released its latest findings from the comprehensive Insight to Action research, this time examining trends in consumer behaviour related to dining out. With a shifting dining out landscape and multicultural cuisine trends on the rise in the US, the Pork Board set out to understand the needs, considerations and motivations that impact out-of-home dining decisions.

The Pork Board’s All About Dining Out: What’s on Trend report uncovers why consumers decide to eat the proteins they do and explores tactics so that foodservice operators can meet those needs, such as exploring new flavours, dishes and menu formats. Similar to the Pork Board’s findings from the previous report, Dinner at Home in America, there is an overarching high level of consumer satisfaction with dishes that feature pork, pointing to opportunity for incorporating pork in new ways on menus.

“With rapidly changing innovations, technology and competition, foodservice providers who truly understand what diners want – and deliver on it – will stand the test of time,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board’s board of directors.

“Consumer-driven insights are critical to our mission of increasing demand for pork. We want to spur innovation in collaboration with foodservice leaders and demonstrate that having more pork in more forms on more menus can increase consumer satisfaction and help drive operator profitability.”

By knowing and understanding these behaviour drivers, foodservice operators have an opportunity to develop new menu items and shift consumer experiences to give diners experiences that meet these primary needs.

“Pork is the number one consumed protein globally, and yet fresh pork is the featured protein in less than 7 percent of entrée options when dining out in the US That seems contradictory,” said Jarrod Sutton, vice president of domestic marketing for the National Pork Board.

“With the growing popularity of Asian and Latin cuisines, where pork is a staple and a centrepiece, foodservice operators at every point on the spectrum have the opportunity to provide their customers with more flavourful and authentic options.”

Some of the key consumer insights from the report include:

  • There are three primary drivers for consumer decisions. When considering where and what to eat when dining out, there are three primary drivers for consumers:
    • Taste.
    • Health.
    • Convenience.
  • They treat themselves. Consumers seek out menu options they don’t usually make at home. One in four consumers (27 percent) consistently look for something new to eat, and they see dining out as an opportunity to treat themselves and indulge a little bit. As the Pork Board’s research revealed in January, consumers don’t keep pork on hand as often as other proteins. With it not being eaten at home as often, it can easily become that treat/indulgence they are looking for.
  • Healthy options are still important. While health isn’t the main reason people dine away from home, it’s still important to consumers that menus have healthy options. Restaurants can expand the menu to include healthy pork options – like the pork tenderloin or the pork sirloin chop – in the same set as other healthy proteins, such as chicken and seafood.
    • When health is the primary driver for a consumer’s dining out decision, roughly six in 10 diners want a food that is “reasonably healthy,” and roughly four in 10 want a food that fits their diet.
  • Expand their horizons. When asked what pork dishes people crave, 51 percent said they crave Mexican and Latin pork dishes and 45 percent said they crave Asian pork dishes.
  • Make it easy; make it fast. Convenience was the primary need for consumers in 38 percent of away-from-home dining occasions. Consumers have high expectations for convenience when out to eat, and technology and the proliferation of on-the-go dining options have helped meet that need.

For more information on the National Pork Board’s Insight to Action research, or to download the full All About Dining Out: What’s on Trend report, visit

About the Research

The National Pork Board commissioned custom research with C+R Research and Datassential. The multi-phased custom studies surveyed 10,000+ consumers and paired foodservice operator interviews, volumetric data, and syndicated foodservice data to gain a comprehensive, in-depth look at the needs, offerings, considerations and motivations that impact out-of-home dining decisions of US consumers.