bacon strips
Bacon has proven staying power.

When it comes to food industry trends, bacon is one that will not die. This smoky, umami-rich treat remains an essential part of many consumers' eating habits. And, this is a good thing for brands. Bacon sales soared to $4 billion last year. To use the power of bacon to bolster your brand's profits, it's important to pick the right bacon for your specific needs.

Ways to include bacon in your brand's offerings

For many years, an increasingly health-conscious populace eschewed pork products, especially bacon. Pork bellies sold for as little as 19 cents per lb. and were often marked for export to countries with struggling economies. Marketers with the Pork Board began a campaign to make bacon more desirable. Over time, they spawned one of the most lasting food industry trends. Bacon prices have increased steadily alongside demand, and they are unlikely to fall back to industry lows.

Packages of raw, sliced bacon meant to be cooked at home are the most popular consumer offerings, but foodservice has become a large buyer of bacon, as well, since bacon can provide a healthy 50 percent to 60 percent profit margin when added onto restaurant items like burgers. Frozen appetizers and snack foods make up another strong market for bacon flavors, as do toppings for frozen pizzas.

Making the cut

All bacon is not created equal. There are a number of cuts available, each of which is uniquely suited to different brand offerings. By picking the right bacon for each of your products, you can ensure that you are allocating your spending in a way that will bring the best profits and be the most pleasing to your customers. Common cuts and products and their best applications include:

• Thin-sliced side bacon. This cut is sliced around 1/32-in. thick and contains 28 to 32 slices per lb. Because it's cut thin, it cooks to a crunchy texture easily. It is a good pick for RTE bacon and products like bacon jerky. It's also great for pizza toppings since it cooks well with little excess grease.

• Regular sliced bacon. At 1/16-in. thick, this is bacon that can be cooked chewy or crispy depending on consumer preference. In products like frozen poppers or other treats, it can add a pleasant chew and flavor. It's also a good choice for fresh or frozen breakfast sandwiches and other ready-to-eat meals.

• Thick-cut bacon. Sliced 1/8 of an inch thick with 10 to 14 slices per lb., this is a good cut for premium or gourmet bacons. Other flavored are maple or black pepper bacon. Many health-conscious and environmentally concerned consumers will look for bacon that is nitrate-free or sustainably raised, which is a good fit for this premium product.

• Pancetta. This Italian bacon, made from pork belly, is spiced, salt cured and then rolled up into cylinders which may or may not be smoked. The round shape makes it a perfect addition to a signature sandwich line. It's the kind of enhancement that tends to attract the attention of foodies and gourmet eaters.

• Back bacon. This cut, which is also known as Canadian bacon, is cut from the loin of the pig. It's very lean, which makes it a good fit for consumers who are looking for a lower-fat or reduced calorie option.

While many food industry trends come and go, bacon has proven staying power. By adding this beloved product to packaged and grab-and-go offerings, you can increase your brand's profits and secure a place in your customers' homes.

This article was contributed by SugarCreek and first appeared on