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Consumer Trends

Meat on the menu

Beef, chicken and pork are the most menued meats, says a recent report from Mintel on "Meat Preparations and Trends."The reports notes that more complex techniques increase opportunities for value-add menu copy, such as concepts like “fire-seared,” “fork-tender,” “braised for hours,” and “smothered." Slow-cooked meats have proven popular; not only are they convenient, versatile and a value-add for restaurants, they are also perceived by consumers as an healthier option than burgers and fries.

Beef usage on menus is up 12% overall, and that beef menu prices have increased only 5% overall since Q2 2009, with burgers and sandwiches showing some of the biggest jumps.

Pork usage, too, is on the upswing, which can be attributed to increased use of bacon, chops and plain pork. As its own menu item, the price of pork has remained steady, but when used with other ingredients or dishes—especially burgers and sandwiches—it has steadily increased.

Looking at poultry usage, turkey is a distant cousin to chicken, but turkey sandwiches have shown a 10% price jump, indicating more potential with turkey menu items.

Additional findings of the report include:

  • Smaller, more economical cuts, flavorful extras and updated Surf & Turf allow casual chains to keep steak on the menu, while steakhouses offer meal deals and bar menus to offset high beef costs
  • Dishes like Shepard’s Pie, meatloaf, pot roast, stew and chili are hearty, inexpensive options that work well in a tough economy
  • Slow techniques like roasted and slow-roasted rank high in beef preparation, while braised shows the biggest increase with a 27% increase from Q2 2009 to Q2 2012
  • Of the top 10 pork preparations, slow-roasted and braised show the most growth; value-added techniques in general are on the rise, with a 14% increase from Q2 2009 to Q2 2012
  • Smoked, slowly cooked and pulled pork preparations add value to less expensive cuts of pork and appeal to consumers who don’t have time for slow cooking at home

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