Chef’s Table By Michael Formichella
Chef Michael Formichella is president and co-owner of Chella Foods.

Pork: A sign of the times

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

As some of you may know, I was involved with Smithfield Foods for a number of years as the COO of their Innovation Group. One of the main focuses of our group was to interact with the national and regional sales teams promoting the vast array of pork products produced by the inner operating companies, as well as help develop new products for food service and retail markets. The reason I am sharing this information is to give you readers a sense of my point of reference in relationship to the heading “a sign of the times.”

Working within every possible food channel you can think of from QSR to arenas to healthcare to grocery chains, etc., our group would attempt and connect the dots to increase the use or scope of pork-related products into the menu mix or product lines. I vividly remember hearing time and time again: chicken first, beef and seafood always before pork. I can still hear some of the executives or chefs we would present to say, “Personally I love pork, but it just doesn’t sell.”

I would say that has changed quite a bit since the 2008 recession hit our economy. Pork has become a more viable protein and a better value proposition not just for retail and foodservice operations but also in a broader sense more attractive overall financially. The explosion of bacon, bacon and more bacon has helped tremendously in the pork movement. I also give credit to better marketing efforts in this segment or channel of business. Furthermore, concepts like Chipotle, the BBQ craze and all day breakfast haven’t hurt these efforts either. We used to say, “A day without pork is a day without sunshine.”  So it’s a simple question this week. Since 2008 and the recession have you or your family started to eat more pork? If so, do you feel there is a direct correlation to the economy? What is your general perception of pork? I’m curious to hear your responses. 

On a side note: I had to chuckle the other day I met with a business development representative of a protein company, and he was showing me a new innovative product called “KC wild wings” from Farmland touting the versatility and easy of use of the product. I can’t tell you the plethora of iterations that were done around those wild wings … eight plus years ago. It’s still a great product, but it just wasn’t its time back then. Who knows? Its time may have come of age. Live well...


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