Pork seen as healthy option
Published:  05 February, 2009

Pork has an important role to play in a healthy, balanced diet - and this message is increasingly hitting home with consumers, according to a new report commissioned by BPEX.

The 'Pork and Healthy Eating' report, highlights that more than 4.3 million people eat pork every day and they are increasingly doing so within a balanced diet. In fact, when fresh pork is considered, consumers instinctively regard it as 'good' food.

Research and insight manager for AHDB Meat Services Richard Cullen said: "This is a huge positive for pork and is particularly encouraging at a time when health remains high on the agenda for so many consumers. It is important the industry continues to drive home the healthy attributes of pork, through packaging and promotions.

"While the news is good for fresh pork, there is still work to be done to dispel misperception among shoppers about the role that meat and meat products in general play in a balanced diet, as well as their contribution to our overall salt and fat intake."

In fact, the report makes it clear that red meat, including processed products such as bacon and sausages, are actually a low overall contributor to fat in the diet.

While households purchase on average 71.7kg of fat a year only 2.7kg - less than 4% - of that comes from fresh meat (much less than comes from yellow fats or savoury home cooking products). When it comes to saturated fats, slightly more than 4% is accounted for by fresh meat, but less than 2.5% by sausages.

Salt is another contentious issue for consumers, yet fresh meat has a clean bill of health. Even with bacon, which many would associate as 'salty', it accounts for just over 4% of average household purchase of salt. In fact, bacon's contribution to salt in the diet is less than a quarter of that of ambient bakery products.

In context, meat and meat products can be seen to be relatively low in absolute terms as contributors of fats and salt in the diet. Red meat, for instance, accounts for only 3.7% of all fat purchased, bacon 1.9% and sausages 2.5%.

The same occurs for volume of saturated fat in the diet. While meat and meat products may have high indices, their actual contributions of saturated fat to the diet are relatively low; total red meat contributes only 4.3% of all saturated fat in the diet.

Cullen said: "Considering that meat is usually eaten as the main and most substantial part of a main meal, the contribution it makes to our total intake of salt and fat is much less than many would imagine, and this is an important message that can be developed and promoted to great effect. Overall, pork is perceived as healthy and this is a great platform for the industry to capitalise on."