US - The Pork Checkoff has recently funded a study to look at how whole-ham sales can be increased year-round.
“Holidays and ham go hand-in-hand for most consumers,” said National Pork Board President Jan Archer, Goldsboro, North Carolina. “And with new ham innovations, there are real opportunities to increase sales throughout the year.”
Six focus groups were held across the country in Boston, Chicago, and Orange County, California, to gather input from both “foodies” and non-foodies. Additionally, 1,100 consumers also completed an online survey.
The findings clearly showed that taste issues are not what is holding back non-holiday whole-ham purchases, with the protein viewed as a savored meat. Many focus group participants became animated and engaged in conversations about preparing and consuming ham. And many described their enjoyment of leftover ham, as an important part of the whole-ham experience.
“What I love (about leftovers) is that late-night thing where you’re hungry and you go to the refrigerator and just get a slice of ham and eat it standing there… that is the best,” one participant said.
While enthusiastic about whole-hams, consumers in the focus groups and the online surveys said that it was for the holidays. This matches whole-ham consumer consumption data from previous years, according to Patrick Fleming, director of market intelligence and innovation for the Pork Checkoff.
When asked, most respondents could not recall seeing whole-hams in supermarkets outside of the typical ham holidays. They also did not recall seeing any summer ham promotions in their grocery store.
“To me, ham is a cold-weather comfort food, but I have also never thought about grilling it,” said another respondent. “Ham seems to be only available around Easter and Christmas.”
“The bottom line is that the issue is not with hams, but instead is with how whole-hams are marketed – or not marketed – outside of holiday seasons,” Fleming said. “When consumers don’t see it in stores, there’s an out of sight, out of mind mentality.”
The good news is that this presents new opportunities to grow the total pork category in sales and volume at the meatcase, Fleming said.
ThePigSite News Desk