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Seaboard Foods Exec: Quality, Value Expected To Drive Pork Sales This Year

Seaboard Foods brand Daily's bacon packages

With 2023 well in the rearview, manufacturers and retailers are looking forward to this spring’s grilling season kicking off renewed demand for meat. 

The last 12 months were a bit turbulent for the meat industry, with escalating feed costs, inflation and lower demand in the U.S. affecting sales. But industry experts are optimistic that these next few months will mark a turnaround for meat sales, including domestic pork products.

photo of Ozlem Worpel with Seaboard Foods
Ozlem Worpel

“I am happy to hear more positive news regarding feed costs coming down, exports expecting to have a great year and domestic demand starting to go up as we head into the grilling season,” said Ozlem Worpel, VP of marketing and innovation at Kansas-based Seaboard Foods.

Despite lower demand in the pork category this past year, Seaboard saw volume growth in its Prairie Fresh Natural, Prairie Fresh Signature and Prairie Fresh USA Prime brands. 

“I believe that speaks to the quality and value our fresh pork products bring to the table,” Worpel said.

Bacon continues to be a staple in U.S. households and volume is up slightly compared with a year ago. Seaboard Foods currently is focusing on expanding its bacon products into new markets and adding new retail partners.

“To keep momentum moving forward, we’re doubling down on our investment in resources and strategy execution to continue to build on our success from the last 130 years of being in business and show consumers how Daily’s puts bacon first,” Worpel said.

Inflation, education driving change

The rising costs associated with dining at restaurants is pushing more people to eat at home. Tired of the same options, consumers are looking for ways to enhance their meal choices. 

“They are taking inspiration from their favorite restaurant meals to add excitement to their weekly at-home menu without breaking the bank,” Worpel noted. 

“Pork is an excellent choice for value-minded shoppers, with a variety of lean cuts available at exceptional price points and culinary versatility. It’s a wholesome protein source.”

Yet, while many people love bacon and ham, they don’t always equate that with understanding that they do, in fact, like pork, Worpel emphasized. She pointed out that educating consumers about the variety of pork recipes and ease of preparation will help to raise awareness about just how easy it is to cook a quick and healthy meal with pork at the center. 

“We want to give people permission to eat more pork,” Worpel said.

Shoppers also want to be confident that the meat they’re serving is from a quality cut. Seaboard Foods is working on educating consumers on how to pick the best cut of pork by partnering with chefs and pitmasters. 

“These experts not only share their own recipes and preparation tips, but they share ideas on what they look for when browsing the meat case for their own meals,” she said. 

Quality, convenience, flavors pushing demand 

Most customers are unaware that not all pork products are the same, which is why at Seaboard quality begins with a connected food system. 

“Collaborating with farmers, processing plants and networked supply chain colleagues allows us to control each step in the production process from farm to delivery,” Worpel explained.

“This way of doing business allows us to be a dependable partner, so that buyers get consistent high-quality meat as well as deep knowledge and reliable marketing support to ultimately help drive retail sales and increase revenue.”

When it comes to bacon, sales of thick-cut varieties are growing. 

“Daily’s Steak Cut Bacon is what we call ‘the bacon that bacon lovers dream about.’ We’re seeing customers consistently ask for a thicker-than-thick slice that can stand out in a crowded meat case,” Worpel said.

Convenience also is driving meat purchases. FMI’s “2024 Power of Meat” study found most consumers spend less than 30 minutes preparing dinner. 

Worpel said its Prairie Fresh Signature products were introduced with convenience in mind. Looking to take the guesswork out of pork preparation, Prairie Fresh Signature products are marinated and don’t require much preparation.

Spicy flavors are also gaining in popularity. Demand for Nashville hot-flavored products is rising by triple-digits, according to Datassential. 

“The more Americans are exposed to diverse cuisines and flavors, they more they want to incorporate that heat into the foods they prepare at home in other segments, so we thought why not pork,” Worpel said.

[Related: Groves To Guide Seaboard Foods As President, CEO]


Opportunity to grow sales

Looking at this year and beyond, there are several opportunities for retailers to increase sales in the meat category.

Leveraging versatility and flavor trends are two key ways, experts noted. For instance, retailers who play on bacon’s wide range of appeal and flexibility can attract consumers looking for convenient, easy ingredient options. 

“Whether as whole strips on a burger or as bacon bits on a salad, consumers are looking to include indulgences, in moderation, into their diet,” Worpel said. 

Companies are continuing to innovate by featuring spices and flavors in different cuts of pork. Later this year, Seaboard Foods will introduce Prairie Fresh ground pork in several new flavors. 

Ground pork continues to grow market share, with breakfast accounting for 89 percent of all chub/roll sausage category sales. 

Seaboard has designed the Prairie Fresh ground pork packaging to jump out in the meat case with bright colors, trendy graphics and a premium look.

About the author

Carol Radice

Senior Content Creator

Carol joins The Shelby Report with more than 25 years writing for B2B magazines that cover the drugstore and supermarket industries. A Rutgers graduate, she earned her B.A. degree in journalism and mass communications more years ago than she cares to admit. She is thrilled to be working with such an accomplished team and to share her knowledge of the industry with Shelby’s readers.

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