Pork is rebranding to meet customers’ new shopping habits

As meat brands adjust to consumers’ new shopping habits, pork is rebranding to get a bigger slice of the market.

U.S. pork pursues prime shelf space in convenient stores across the country.

National Pork Board’s Neal Hull states, “The key for convenience stores is this idea of grab-and-go. Where I can pop in, grab a breakfast sandwich, grab a coffee, grab a soda, and I’m on the road.”

However, COVID has forced many convenience stores to adjust the way they serve food. “If you think early on and go back to April, May and June, the idea of the roller grill or grab-and-go cases from a safety standpoint, they really had shifted away from that,” he states.

Grab-and-go was gaining in popularity before the pandemic. As attitudes about food started to shift back in the spring, many convenience stores caught on.

“You’re seeing a lot of convenience stores shifting to this prepackaged, shifting to a refrigerated case,” he notes. “You’re starting to see some of the hot food come back, which is good but they really shifted the focus on this prepacked mindset because consumers feel that that’s a safer option, and it hasn’t been handled as much as some of the other items.”

Upping prepackaged food production is helping expand opportunities for pork.

“There’s opportunity for volume, there’s opportunity to expand menu offerings as they continue to focus on the food service side of their business, and another example that I’ll give you is, there’s a major convenience store chain that has 1,800 locations and we’re working on an item that would have bacon, it would have sausage in it, it would have ham. So, I mean really central to the producers,” he adds.

The Pork Checkoff says that it wants to get more pork products on shelves at Casey’s General Stores. The popular Midwest chain is located in the middle of hog country, making it easier to connect producers to retailers.