Pork Roasts Are Out as Millennials Opt for Pre-Sliced Stir Frys

(Bloomberg) -- Millennials are poised to make grandma’s pork roast a thing of the past.

Americans today are busier and living in households with fewer mouths to feed. That’s changing the way they’re eating dinner, and for the pork industry, that means there’s not enough pre-portioned, pre-sliced, pre-marinated pork at the grocery store that can be tossed into a last-minute stir fry for dinner.

The meat industry has lagged behind other foods and brands in adapting to the new trends, said Jarrod Sutton, vice president of domestic marketing for the National Pork Board. To catch up, the organization, which researches and promotes the meat, released the first of a series of reports on Thursday that gives a comprehensive look at how U.S. consumers eat. This installment is on dinnertime.

Commodity companies have struggled to boost profits in recent years as changing tastes and a fast-paced lifestyle mean consumers prefer specialty items and easy-to-cook meals. That’s pushed meat producers including Smithfield Food Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. to focus on value-added products such as sliced ham and marinated pork chops.

Smaller Portions

Pork will increasingly be an ingredient in dishes, rather than the center of someone’s plate next to veggies and a starch, Sutton said. Consumers want to buy smaller portions that are ready-to-cook and feature easy directions for preparation, the group’s study showed. International flavors are also in.

The report said there are nine ways that Americans typically have dinner, ranging from solo dining to celebrating with extended family. The most common occasion, though, is people that need to feed their family in a hurry, which comprises about 13 percent of dinners. To appeal to consumers, meals need to be quick, casual, and easy to clean up.

Bacon has been doing it right, Sutton said. It’s a versatile ingredient that comes in different sizes, types and flavors. Americans spent $3.8 billion on bacon via retail sales from January through November 2018, up 4.3 percent from the year before, according to the National Pork Board, citing Nielsen research.

In order to make her traditional pork roast for dinner, “Grandma had to have a lot of time,” Sutton said. “Today’s time-compressed consumer is looking for easy solutions.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.