Beef prices in the U.S. are hitting record highs and are expected to climb over the next two years, as predicted by the USDA. In fact, experts expect a 10 percent rise in 2012 and 2013. Shoppers and restaurant owners alike are already feeling the pain from the price increases. A combination of factors, including severe drought in the U.S.’s most populated areas of cattle, Texas and Oklahoma, a weak U.S. dollar, and high foreign demand, have led to a high sticker price for Americans.
As a result, there is less meat on the store shelves and American consumers are opting for less expensive beef products like ground beef or select versus choice cuts of beef to cope.
How then, can a restaurant owner modify his menu to maintain profitability during beef price volatility? There are a variety of non-beef options to be substituted, such as pork and chicken. Also, consider these other beef alternatives:
- Lean ground turkey: hamburger restaurants should definitely look into offering turkey burgers on their menu. Seasoned and cooked properly, the turkey burger will present guests with a lower-fat and lower-calorie alternative. Further, the restaurant will be expanding to the healthy-minded consumer.
- Nuts, beans and legumes: no meat, but these ingredients can create a wonderful vegetarian burger. Nuts are already a great source of protein and some, like walnuts, provide earthy flavors (and meaty texture) – check out Whole Food’s lentil and walnut burger recipe
- Seitan: made from wheat gluten, seitan is popularly used by vegetarians as meat substitutes due to its meat-like texture when cooked and is high in protein. It’s also a common substitute to soy-based meat substitutes. Wheat gluten is has been used in vegetarian recipes in Asian for generations. Check out this seitan stir-fry recipe.
It’s also worthy to mention that cheaper cuts of beef should be evaluated. Many chefs have been looking into cheaper cuts of beef to substitute for the more expensive cuts like strip steak or rib eye. Chuck eye steak, for example, are tougher but with a good marinade, can become more tender and are best cooked medium-rare. Hanger and skirt steaks are relatively inexpensive and very versatile cuts to cook with. They have a rich taste and can be very tender when cooked rare to medium rare and then sliced. Learn more on how to cook hanger and skirt steaks here.
Are you interested in evaluating your restaurant’s menu for beef alternative dishes? Looking to optimize your menu around better margin proteins? Contact Synergy for a free initial consultation.
Blog, Restaurant News