Raise the Stakes
Beef Up Your Profits with Steak on the Menu
There’s no substitute for a succulent steak, and even during the dark years of sky-high prices (2014-15), steak never moved far from its regal center-of-the-plate status. More than a billion pounds of steak are sold annually, a figure that’s destined to rise as farmers and ranchers rebuild from the history-making drought. Prices are not just stabilizing but on the way down. And that makes now the perfect time to take a deep cut into what’s at stake for steak on your menu … see below for stats, facts and why they matter from experts Dave Zino, executive chef, National Cattleman’s Beef Association and Kelly Weikel, Director of Consumer Insights, Technomic.
Prices Down, Profits Up
Weighted Average Choice/Select Cutout Price:
- 2015: $236/cwt.
- 2016: Year To Date: $219/cwt.
- Difference: -$17/cwt. Or -7.2%
Forecast for all of 2016: wholesale beef prices 9-10% lower than 2015.
Where’s the Beef? Everywhere!
- 90% of consumers say they’re eating beef monthly.
- Beef represents 30% of total foodservice protein.
- More than 50% of operators menu steak.
cuts to remember
Most popular and fastest-growing
- Filets (women show a marked preference for this cut)
- Prime rib
- NY or Kansas City strip
- Flat Iron
Up and Coming
- Tri-Tip: a lean, tender, full-flavored and profitable cut with minimal waste. Use for Mexican or barbecued beef, sandwiches, stroganoff,
kabobs, breakfast dishes.
- Chuck Tail Flap: needs no tenderization or marination. Slice thin for Asian specialties, shred for use in appetizers, wraps, pizza.
- Sirloin Bavette: boneless muscle needs tenderizing, cut against the grain in strips to marinate. Use for fajitas, French dip, Italian beef and Philly cheese steak sandwiches.
- Coulotte Steak: provides the full sirloin experience at a lower cost. Sear, fat side down; render some of the fat before flipping and browning the lean side; then roast in oven. Use as COP entrée, or slice and cubed.
- Ribeye Cap: pull the cap off a ribeye, cook as a steak or roll into a roulade.
Steaks Mean Hearty Meals, Bigger Checks
Check sizes are higher when steak is ordered because consumers are more likely to order additional, higher-margin items on the menu.
Terms that indicate real value to diners. Where it comes from is very important, says Zino. “Customers want to know the beef was grown locally by real people. High quality monikers like primer, USDA beef, waygu are also meaningful.” According to industry research, natural, unprocessed beef that is hormone, steroid and antibiotic free are among the options consumers indicate they are most likely to pay more for.
New Takes on Steaks
- Try cold smoking a tenderloin, then cooking.
- Stretch the steak with cubes in kabobs, breakfast beef burritos, use as toppings for entrees.
- Coffee or porcini (mushrooms) rubs, cabernet mustards
- Complement beef with savory umami flavors - onion, garlic, truffle butter and bacon.
Where to FInd the innovators:
- Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill in Charleston, SC, cooks steaks over a 1,400 degree, wood-fire oven or a 700 degree stone at the table.
- David Burke’s Primehouse in Chicago offers a selection based on dry-aging time, from 30-day Porterhouses to 75-day ribeyes.
- Maple and Ash in Chicago serves an umami bomb of a sandwich - wood-fired prime rib with wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, arugula, banana peppers and provolone cheese.
- Fleming’s in Phoenix, AZ goes small plate with sliced filet mignon, shiitake risotto, chili oil and porcini butter drizzle.
- La Chasse in Louisville KY treats the Wagyu flank steak right, grilling it with brown sugar and cumin and serving it atop local aquaponic lettuce tossed in 20-year sherry vinaigrette, and a side of herbed Reggiano french fries.
- Table in Asheville, NC, makes a fusion hanger steak, with sweet onion, watercress, brown butter, fingerling, Ibores and Chinese black bean-balsamic.
- Peacock Alley in Bismarck, ND innovates with sirloin
steak bite appetizers, topped with smoked Gouda and bock mustard.