10 Facts About Pork Meat: Nutritional Insights & Pricing Trends

Pork, the world’s most popular meat, offers a range of cuts and culinary possibilities. From Mexico’s record-breaking roast pork to Japan’s pricey carcass, explore unique facts and cultural insights about this versatile protein source.

Pork Facts

Pork, the meat product of the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus), is highly prized across the world for its unique flavor and exceptionally wide variety of culinary applications. But how much do you really know about your bacon and hocks?

In this article, we’ll be exploring the most fascinating facts about pork meat — from its origins in wild hogs to its many applications in food cultures across the world. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll know more than ever before about pigs and pork, so let’s get started!

Diagram of Pork Cuts
Diagram of Pork Cuts

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1. Pork Is the World’s Most Popular Meat

In statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, pork reigns supreme. Accounting for 36% of meat intake worldwide, it’s the undisputed champion of proteins in cuisines from Europe to Asia and everywhere in between.

Poultry is a close runner up, though, accounting for around 35% of meat intake; beef comes in third, at about 22% of total meat consumption.

In their last estimate of population numbers for meat-producing animals, the FAO cites 966 million pigs (of all breeds from Duroc to Berkshire) in the world at any given time. There’s a recipe for every part of the pig from the bacon to the neck bone.

2. Mexico Holds the Record for Largest Serving of Roast Pork

Cochinita Pibil is a Mexican delicacy from the province of Yucatan — a bright orange preparation of roast pork seasoned with an acidic marinade, annatto seed, and spices.

And while it usually tops street tacos and enchiladas or empanadas a few ounces at a time, the Fundación Produce Yucatán, A.C. had their sights set higher: A record-breaking serving of roast pork. Weighing in at over 14,000 pounds, it was prepared in 47 ovens and served on a dish over 150 feet long.

3. The Most Expensive Pork Carcass Ever Was Sold in Japan

Wagyu beef might be the first meat that comes to mind when you think of Japan, but it’s far from being the only protein that commands a staggering price.

Case in point: The most expensive pork ever sold was a full carcass produced by Hitachi Farm Co., Ltd. which was sold at the Tokyo Meat Market. The price? An astonishing $12,756!

4. Charcuterie Is the Art of Preserving Pork (and Other Meats)

Coming from the French term for “charred flesh”, charcuterie is a fine culinary art that seeks to preserve seasonal meat harvests in the most durable and delicious way possible –by using careful production methods that maximize beneficial enzymatic activity while preventing spoilage.

Pork is the star of the show in most charcuterie, featuring in sausages, pates, rillettes hams, and more — but more rarely you’ll find beef, poultry, or fish used as well.

5. Jamon is Spain’s Signature Preserved Pork Product

Considered one of the finest examples of the art of charcuterie, Spain’s jamon serrano and jamon iberico have an almost legendary status among chefs and gourmets.

A dry-cured ham made from the meat of indigenous Spanish pigs, it is prized for its complex flavor and smooth, buttery texture.

They’re air dried for a minimum of 252 days, and considered a protected product category by the Spanish government.

6. Salt-Cured Pork Belly Is An American Obsession

Better known by its common name, bacon, the salt- and nitrate-cured belly of a pig has developed a cult following in the United States.

With phrases like “everything’s better with bacon” coming into vogue in the early 2000s, it seems that Americans’ love for the crispy stuff is here to stay. Loaded with fat, salt, and umami, it may not be a healthy option — but it sure is delicious.

7. Apples Are A Classic Pairing With Pork

Prior to the advent of globalization and mass refrigeration, pork was primarily a seasonal product. After being slaughtered each fall, urban and rural gourmets could enjoy fresh cuts of pork for a limited time unless the hog was preserved as charcuterie.

This, in turn, led to one of European cuisine’s most delectable combinations: Fresh, juicy, fatty pork paired with crisp, aromatic apples, harvested at the same time that the pig was slaughtered. Apple flavoring is even popular with pork skins.

8. The National Dish of Brazil Is Made With Pork

Cooking and eating meals together is a huge part of Brazilian culture — and this is especially noticeable in the preparation and serving of feijoada, the official national dish of Brazil.

It’s a soup filled with black beans and assorted pork sausages, cooked down over a low heat throughout most of a day before being served with rice, sautéed greens, and/or slices of orange.

9. Chinese Cuisine Has A Unique Way of Cooking Pork

The region of Canton, China is home to a particularly interesting way of preparing and eating barbecued pork: Char siu.

Cuts of pork are taken from the loin, belly, butt, and neck before being cut into long strips, seasoned with a rich blend of Chinese five spice, sugar, and hot chilis, and roasted to a red-skinned crisp. Delicious eaten on its own, char siu also plays a starring role in the famous char siu egg rice or Chinese sausage.

10. Some Religions Forbid Eating Pork

Though pork is held in high esteem in many of the world’s food cultures, two stand out as exceptions.

Jewish Kosher guidelines and Muslim Halal rules both explicitly forbid the slaughter and consumption of pigs and their meat. Not all Jews or Muslims observe these guidelines (just like some Christians do observe the guidelines), but there is still a substantial market for products that are certified Kosher or Halal.

FAQs about Pork Meat

Let’s hear your questions!

What are some facts about pork meat?

Pork meat is a widely consumed red meat globally, particularly in Asia. However, it is prohibited in certain religions like Islam and Judaism. While pork can be prepared in its natural state, it is also commonly preserved through smoking, resulting in products like ham, bacon, and sausages.

Is pork the healthiest meat?

Pork is just as healthy as lean beef and chicken, according to a study that found substituting pork for these meats resulted in reduced body fat and improved heart health. For a delicious twist, consider grilling a lean and flavorful ancho-rubbed pork tenderloin.

Is pork the most consumed meat in the world?

Pork is indeed the most consumed meat globally, as stated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It accounts for 36% of the total meat consumption worldwide, with poultry following closely at 33%, beef at 24%, and goats/sheep at 5%.

Is pork okay for you?

Pork is nutritionally beneficial as it contains a variety of essential nutrients such as energizing B vitamins, choline for the development of babies, and iron for maintaining healthy red blood cells. A 3-ounce serving of lean pork is rich in protein and low in fat, making it a suitable choice for a well-balanced, high-nutrient diet.

Why is pork not pig meat?

Pork is not pig meat because the term “pork” originated from the French word “porc,” which was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for pig. Similarly, the French term “boeuf” came from the Anglo-Saxon word for cow, which later became “beef,” and “mouton” was used for sheep, later known as “mutton.”

Why is meat called pork?

Meat is called pork because during the reign of William the Conqueror, the English language underwent changes and assimilated with Norman traditions. The word for cow, pronounced as “beuf” by the Norman chefs, eventually transformed into “beef.” Similarly, the pronunciation of pig as “pauk” by the Normans evolved into the term “pork” that we use today.

Is pork all pig meat?

Pork is not limited to all pig meat; it refers to various cuts obtained from different parts of a domesticated pig, such as the shoulder, leg, and belly. This popular meat product is consumed worldwide, both in freshly cooked and preserved forms.

Is pork the most unhealthy meat?

Pork is not the most unhealthy meat. In fact, when comparing pork to beef, pork may be a better choice for managing blood cholesterol levels. While both meats are high in proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, beef tends to have higher amounts of calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol than pork. Therefore, if you are trying to manage your blood cholesterol levels, pork may be a preferable option over beef.

Why is pork meat different?

Pork meat is different because it contains a higher amount of myoglobin compared to poultry and fish, which classifies it as red meat. Despite not having a bright red color, pork meat is still considered red meat and may appear lighter in color when cooked.

What are the benefits of eating pork?

The benefits of eating pork include being a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc, as well as being an excellent provider of high-quality protein. Incorporating moderate amounts of minimally processed, lean, fully-cooked pork into your diet can potentially offer various advantages for your health.

What is the unhealthiest meat?

The unhealthiest meat is generally considered to be processed meats, which health experts advise avoiding. Processed meats encompass smoked, salted, cured, dried, or canned meats. They contain high levels of sodium and can have double the amount of nitrates compared to fresh meat.

Which is healthier beef or pork?

Pork is not worse than beef. Both pork and beef contain proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. However, beef generally has higher amounts of calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol compared to pork. If you are aiming to control your blood cholesterol levels, pork may be a preferable option.

Why is pork a superfood?

Pork can be considered a superfood due to its nutrient density, providing a range of benefits for overall health. With its high protein content, pork supports muscle growth and function. Additionally, it contains moderate amounts of fat, which can help sustain energy levels and promote satiety. Moreover, pork is rich in various essential micronutrients that contribute to the proper functioning of the body.

How often is it healthy to eat pork?

It is recommended to consume less than 350g of unprocessed beef, lamb, pork, and veal per week, according to the Heart Foundation chief medical advisor and cardiologist Garry Jennings. This translates to approximately one to three lean red-meat meals a week, such as a Sunday roast or a beef stir-fry.

Is pork good for the skin?

Pork is beneficial for the skin due to its high glycine content, a unique nutrient that is not commonly found in other types of meat. Glycine is an essential amino acid that plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and elasticity of our skin by being a vital component of collagen.

How long does it take to digest pork?

It takes as long as 2 days for your body to fully digest pork. The complex molecules of proteins and fats in pork require more time for your body to break down. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables, which are rich in fiber, can pass through your system in less than a day.

Is pork good for your hair?

Pork is beneficial for your hair as it contains essential B vitamins such as folate, B6, and B12. These vitamins play a crucial role in the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the scalp, hair follicles, and growing hair. Therefore, incorporating pork into your diet can contribute to shiny and lustrous locks.

Is chicken or pork better for you?

Chicken is considered healthier than pork because it is a lean source of protein that does not contain saturated fat, which is known to raise blood cholesterol levels. However, it is important to note that the quality of the meat and the removal of excess fat and skin can significantly impact the overall healthiness of both chicken and pork.

What are some facts about pork in the United States?

Pork in the United States is a significant industry, as it is the third-largest producer and consumer of pork and pork products globally. Over the years, the United States has consistently ranked as the top or second-largest exporter of pork, with exports typically accounting for more than 20 percent of commercial pork production.

Which culture eats the most pork?

The culture that consumes the most pork is China, with an annual consumption of 54 million metric tons, according to The Guardian. Although the title of consuming the most meat worldwide goes to the U.S.A., China’s pork consumption surpasses all other countries by a significant margin.

Who eats the most pork in the world?

China, including its special economic regions Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland China, remains the largest consumer of pork in the world in 2021, with per capita consumption of approximately 61 kg, 52 kg, and 37 kg respectively.

What is the most eaten meat in us?

The most consumed meat in the US is chicken, accounting for 43% of all meat consumed. According to the USDA, chicken surpassed pork in the 1940s and became the second most consumed meat in 1996. Since then, chicken has remained a popular choice among both consumers and chefs.

What are the top 3 states for pork?

The top 3 states for pork production in the U.S. are Iowa, Minnesota, and North Carolina.

How old is the pork we eat?

The pork we eat comes from pigs of different ages. Piglets are typically 1.5 to 3 months old, while the fattening pigs, which are raised for pork and bacon, are usually between 4 months and one year old. Additionally, there are older pigs like sows (female pigs) and boars (uncastrated male pigs) that are also used for various purposes.

How old is pork meat?

The age of pork meat typically ranges from six months to one year, as it is the flesh of hogs that are usually slaughtered during this time.

Why is pork a cheap meat?

Pork is considered a cheap meat because it benefits from automated processing methods, unlike beef that requires more manual labor. This automated process reduces the cost of production. Moreover, the transportation costs for pigs are lower, further contributing to the overall lower price of pork.

What is the most expensive pork in the world?

The most expensive pork in the world is Iberico Pork, which is derived from the renowned Iberian Black Pigs exclusively found in Spain and Portugal. Its high cost can be attributed to the pigs’ unique diet and their ability to roam freely.

Why do Muslims not eat pork?

Muslims do not eat pork due to religious beliefs and dietary restrictions.

Does the Bible say not to eat pork?

The Bible states in Leviticus 11:7 that pork is considered unclean and forbidden for God’s people to eat, as it does not chew the cud and has cloven hooves. This prohibition applies to all forms of pork, including ham, bacon, and sausage, though it is interpreted differently by various Christian denominations.

Can Jews eat pork?

Jews are prohibited from eating pork and its products, which has been a longstanding practice in both Judaism and Islam. The ban on pork consumption is deeply rooted in cultural traditions and is strictly followed by adherents of both religions. Scholars have put forth various explanations for this prohibition.

Can pork be healthy?

Adequately cooked pork can be a valuable addition to a nutritious eating plan due to its abundance of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and high-quality protein.

Why is pork bad for you?

Pork can be harmful to your health due to several reasons. Specifically, certain pork cuts contain high levels of saturated fatty acids, which are considered unhealthy fats. Consuming excessive amounts of saturated fats can elevate the likelihood of developing heart issues, obesity, and other chronic diseases. Additionally, the consumption of undercooked pork poses a risk of transmitting viral and bacterial infections from pigs to humans.

Why are pigs unclean?

Pigs are considered unclean due to their consumption of calorie-dense foods, including nuts, grains, carrion, human corpses, and feces. This dietary behavior led to the perception of pigs as unclean animals. It is worth noting that this prejudice was not limited to the Jewish culture, as even in the prominent civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, pork was strictly avoided by priests and rulers.

Why is pork not kosher?

Pork is not kosher because it does not meet the dietary requirements outlined in the Torah. According to the Torah, animals that are considered kosher must be ruminants, meaning they chew cud and have split hooves, like sheep or cows. Pigs, however, do not have these characteristics, making them non-kosher. Additionally, aquatic animals can only be consumed if they possess both fins and scales.

Why do Muslims not eat pork but eat chicken?

Muslims do not eat pork but consume chicken because the Holy Quran explicitly declares certain foods as forbidden (haram) while allowing others. Pork falls under the category of forbidden foods, as stated in the Holy Quran.

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