The bacon craze continues to build with loyal bacon fanatics inspiring the creation of organizations from the Royal Bacon Society, which dubs itself the “ultimate bacon resource,” to Bacon Camp, an ad-hoc gathering of people across the country who enjoy learning about bacon.

Restaurants like Wendy’s, finding innovative methods to add bacon to the menu, are leading the way. Popular options include the Baconator and the new Bacon and Blue Hamburger, featuring fresh-cooked applewood smoked bacon and blue cheese crumbles.

“Wendy’s, which is the fifth-largest restaurant chain in the world, has always been a very good partner for us,” says Paul Perfilio, national foodservice marketing manager for the Pork Checkoff. “They want to be known for bacon cheeseburgers, and this is good news for pork producers.”

Earlier this year, National Pork Board officials honored Wendy’s efforts to boost bacon sales with a Vendor Appreciation Day in Columbus, OH.

National Pork Board President Tim Bierman and Pork Board CEO Chris Novak also presented Wendy’s executives with an award for marketing innovation in bacon.

“We appreciate the added effort that operators like Wendy’s make to add more bacon and pork to their menus,” says Perfilio. “We don’t know where the bacon trend will lead, but we’re enjoying this opportunity to promote pork while helping restaurant chains like Wendy’s stay ahead of the curve and meet their goals.”

In the last eight years, bacon has become the second fastest-growing pork category, second only to ground pork and tied with pulled pork. More than 1.7 billion lb. of pork are consumed in the U.S. foodservice industry each year, notes Perfilio. He provides this breakdown:

  • 600 million lb. of the 1.7 billion total lb. are consumed in the South.
  • 436 million lb. are consumed in the Northeast.
  • 419 million lb. are consumed in the central United States.
  • 285 million lb. are consumed in the West.

“ Bacon is a big part of the pork business today, and it goes way beyond breakfast,” says Perfilio. “We’re pleased that a number of 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.”