Restaurants are offering pork more frequently on their menus, new research from Technomic finds.
Over the past year, menu mentions of pork have increased by 7 percent, according to the foodservice consulting group’s MenuMonitor database. The meat is being featured in appetizers, entrees and side dishes.
"Restaurants are using pork more often in main dishes and as an accompanying ingredient in menu items for various reasons," Bernadette Noone, director, Technomic MenuMonitor, said . "First, the higher cost of beef has made pork a nice substitute in combo dishes. Where customers were once seeing chicken and beef on the menu, they may now see more affordable chicken and pork dishes. The popularity of bacon is another key factor. For the last few years we've seen bacon-related menu items increase by over 7 percent annually."
Bacon, sausage and ham are the most common pork items that have been appearing on menus recently. Pork is also appearing more with other proteins, showing a 15-percent increase in shellfish dishes, 13-percent rise in chicken dishes and 8-percent increase in beef and burger dishes in the second quarter of 2011.
The use of pork also coincides with the trend of using rustic, natural ingredients. For instance, Chipotle uses naturally raised pork for its carnitas, and Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants uses all-natural Iowa pork tenderloin medallions in a menu item that coats the meat with a maple, mustard and pretzel crust.
Here are some other new menu items from a variety of restaurants that use pork:
• BBQ Spare Ribs & Pork Roast, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
• Country Style Pork Cutlet, Max & Erma's
• Mojo Roast Pork, Pollo Tropical
• Red Beans & Rice with Andouille sausage, Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar
• Wood Grilled Chorizo Sliders, Bahama Breeze
• Memphis BBQ Skins with pulled pork, Chili's Grill & Bar
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