During a period when families are spending more time together than ever before, new research indicates a positive impact on behavioral and nutritional health.
Surveys commissioned by the National Pork Board show despite a yearning for a return to "normal," families report strengthened bonds and more time shared over meals than before the global pandemic.
"We can't dismiss the hardships and stress that families are facing," says Lori Gottlieb, psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author. "But in the face of those challenges, it's reassuring to see families strengthening their ties and improving wellbeing through personal connections. This kind of support is needed now more than ever, and it's happening in the most natural spot — at the family table, over a nutritious meal."
Connections don't just begin during the meal. Togetherness often starts with meal preparation. More than half of families surveyed say they're cooking more over the past six months, with one in three of them trying new recipes.
What's on the menu? When it comes to pork, bacon and pork chops are the most popular across all households. For families with children, pork cuts like sausage, pepperoni and ham deli meat are more likely to be kept on hand, with families reporting a need for foods that are convenient, healthy and fun. It's especially important as 44% of families use dinner leftovers to help manage lunch the next day.
"We know mealtime has taken on a new dynamic during quarantine and consumers are carefully considering purchases," says Angie Krieger, vice president of domestic marketing at NPB. "During the pandemic, sales of pork have surged as consumers cook more at home, try new recipes and purchase new products. We know families have a desire for ease and comfort during uncertain times, and pork is a versatile, flavorful protein that satisfies those needs."
In the midst of an ever-changing world, families say they will miss the togetherness of family meals. Even teenagers report enjoyment from catching up with family members at dinner. Eighty-five percent say they'll continue eating together post-coronavirus.
In an effort to further support families, NPB is offering consumer resources, including globally inspired pork recipes, videos of international chefs cooking dishes with domestic chefs and social media influencers serving up some of their go-to pork meals at the Real Pork page and the NPB's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest accounts.