It’s likely the future of pork consumption in the United States isn’t pork chops with a side of broccoli and mashed potatoes but rather ground pork providing protein in a bowl of ramen or shredded and seasoned pork served in a taco, according to David Newman, senior vice president of market growth for the National Pork Board.

“[Younger consumers] see pork as an ingredient. It’s no longer the center of the plate,” Newman suggested. 

Newman made his comments during the Feb. 26 episode of the Spokesman Speaks podcast, available online at

Much of this shift in eating style comes from the variety of recipes and cooking influencers available through social media such as TikTok and Instagram. Younger eaters often will see someone eating or cooking a new style of food then try to recreate the dish.

“Many of them are food explorers, and they will try new things,” Newman said.

International appeal

This is where the concept of pork as an ingredient comes from. 

Ground pork, for example, works well in many Asian dishes where ground or chopped meats are put into noodle dishes or wrapped into dumplings or egg rolls. 

Pork is also very popular in South American cuisine. In recent years, Mexico has become the biggest export market for U.S. pork. Columbia has also increased its imports of U.S. pork, and trade negotiators are working to open more markets for pork.

“Here’s the great news for pork. We’re very flavorful. We’re awesome in fact. We have bacon,” Newman said. “We have more than bacon — we have barbecue, we have breakfast. But we need to [have] lunch. We need to [have] supper.”

Building relevance

To combat national trends that are moving away from pork consumption, Newman said he is hyper-focused on rebuilding the domestic market for pork.

A recent report from the Beef Checkoff on national protein consumption trends showed pork rates poorly against beef and chicken when U.S. consumers — across the demographic and age spectrum — are asked to list their protein preference. 

“As much as I would like to say we are winning with younger consumers, the truth is we’re not very relevant as a protein versus other proteins,” Newman said.

The survey found that 44% of American consumers rank chicken as their first protein choice, 35% chose beef, 12% chose fish, 5% chose meat alternatives (plant-based) and only 4% chose pork.

“We have an audience of consumers in this country who do not believe that pork is healthy for them,” Newman said. “We actually have an audience of consumers who have been told that red meat is bad for them [compared to] other proteins or other diets.”

Targeted approach

The Pork Checkoff in the last year has adopted a targeted approach to advertising that uses data to identify parts of the country and specific demographic groups who are more likely to be open to buying pork at the grocery store.

Then, consumers within those demographic groups are targeted with advertising via social media — often in the form of recipe suggestions or tasty-looking content.

“When you see ads and you are repeatedly reminded that [pork] is good for you, that [pork] is flavorful, that [pork] could play a role in a creative recipe, that’s how you start to build relevance,” Newman said.