Flavored bacon is a way to differentiate and add value at food service.

Processing makes perfect

Describing the process and explaining the time investment into making flavored bacon contributes to its premium status.

“Consumers today, more than ever before, recognize and appreciate the authenticity behind traditional cooking preparation methods,” said Jacquelyn Schuh, market research and consumer insights specialist of meat for Kerry Group. “Fire, the original preparation method, has definitely made its mark across all food and beverage applications in the last few years, but perhaps most pronounced is smoke’s proliferation across meat, bacon, in particular.”

Indeed, wood smokes are a leading driver of flavor innovation in bacon. The top bacon flavors by volume at retail are smoke, hardwood smoke, applewood smoke, hickory smoke, and also variations on maple and pepper flavors, according to data from Nielsen, New York. In food service, among all smoke varieties, oak (+86%), cherrywood (+73%) and applewood (+32%) have shown the greatest growth in the past four years, according to Datassential.

Arby's offers a lineup of Triple Thick Brown Sugar Bacon sandwiches.

Some culinary professionals are taking smoke to the next level, according to Juliet Greene, corporate chef of Mizkan Americas.

“Infusing bacon with herbal smokes, such as ‘fired rosemary’ can add a nice warm, smoke flavor," she said. "Smoky balsamic brown sugar delivers sweet, tangy and savory notes to please the palate.”

Culinary professionals are embracing the fact that the savory and fatty flavor profile of bacon melds well with other flavors. Consumers are often willing to explore unfamiliar and ethnic flavors when they are delivered on a familiar food, such as bacon. Bacon’s composition and form functions as an ideal vehicle for flavor innovation.