- The Fresh Market will now offer Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork for all fresh pork products at its butcher counters, according to a press release sent to Grocery Dive.
- Similar to prime beef, the "prime" designation indicates pork that possesses superior marbling, has a visible pink color and is 25% more tender than other pork.
- Prime pork offerings at The Fresh Market will include chops, tenderloins, ribs and roasts at all of the banner's 161 locations across 22 states.
The Fresh Market began offering the upgraded pork selection earlier this month, and a company spokesperson told Grocery Dive in an email that customers are responding well. The upgrade ties into The Fresh Market’s focus on providing high-quality, fresh foods as an upscale specialty market.
Pork is a smart choice considering that the meat captured 40.4% of global meat consumption during 2017, well over chicken (32.4%) and beef (21.8%). Last year in the U.S., pork consumption per capita was 50.8 pounds.
Overall, meat is helping to drive supermarket sales, according to "Dinner at Home in America," a report from the National Pork Board, but meat is taking up less space on consumers’ plates as plant-based diets and interest in exploring cultural cuisines gain more traction. The good news for pork producers and providers is that most plant-based proteins are focused on replacing beef, with little to no mention of a plant-based pork alternative.
Older generations seem to be the primary purchasers of pork, with the protein showing less traction among younger shoppers. People who routinely purchase pork tend to spend more at the grocery store than people purchasing beef or poultry, with pork buyers spending $1,663 annually compared to $1,328 for beef buyers and $1,239 for chicken shoppers. This could mean that pork-loving consumers are more willing to open their wallets for premium cuts.
The Fresh Market already stocks USDA Prime beef at its butcher counter, so adding a Prime pork offering could signal that the beef offering has been a success with shoppers. The Fresh Market is not alone in adding prime meats to its line-up. Earlier this year, Sam’s Club began stocking USDA Prime beef in all of its stores after a successful pilot program. Other grocers that carry Prime beef include Albertsons, Walmart, H-E-B, Kroger, Whole Foods and Costco.
Pork offerings aside, The Fresh Market has been under pressure lately. Last year the company announced the closure of 15 locations as part of a company-wide turnaround plan after Apollo Global Management acquired it for $1.26 billion in 2016. The company has deliberately slowed expansion to focus on its roots as a specialty retailer, and is looking for creative ways to stand out in the face of expansion of health-focused stores like Sprouts and e-commerce competition from Amazon.