DES MOINES, IOWA – Bacon has become the second-fastest growing category for pork at foodservice outlets in the last eight years, second only to ground pork and tied with pulled pork, according to Paul Perfilio, national foodservice manager for the Pork Checkoff. Each year in the U.S. more than 1.7 billion lbs. of bacon are consumed in foodservice.

Mr. Perfilio further noted:

• 600 million lbs. of the 1.7 billion total lbs. are consumed in the South.

• 436 million lbs. are consumed in the Northeast.

• 419 million lbs. are consumed in the central U.S.

• 285 million lbs. are consumed in the West.

"Bacon is a big part of the pork business today, and it goes way beyond breakfast," Mr. Perfilio said. "We're pleased restaurant operators have come to us to learn more about bacon, and we continue to work with our chain partners to help them learn more about bacon's possibilities."

During the past two years, the Pork Checkoff has sponsored numerous bacon-themed educational workshops for restaurant chains on how bacon is made and how chains can offer customers high-quality bacon products. Topics include selecting the right vendor or processor, slicing options, curing solutions and other practical considerations important to operators that buy large quantities of bacon.

The highlight of the three-hour seminar, presented to executives from the marketing, operations, culinary and logistics departments, includes the "bacon buffet."

"We offer to them the opportunity to sample as many as 20 different kinds of bacon from various national, regional and local brands," Mr. Perfilio said. "We want to give them a complete taste of what's available, as well as help them find better products and save money, whenever possible. We hope this leads to the continued additional use and menuing of bacon.”

Pork Checkoff data reveals:

• Sixty-nine percent of all foodservice operators buy bacon.

• Seventy-seven percent of non-commercial operators (foodservice companies that supply hospitals, schools, stadiums, etc.) buy bacon.

• From 2004 to 2009, bacon menuing increased from 62% to 64% at fast-food restaurants, 85% to 88% at family-dining menus, 59% to 68% at fast-casual restaurants and 81% to 88% at casual-dining restaurants.