Where’s the beef? Be ready for Great British Beef Week

Whether it’s pies or parsnips, it’s hard to find a type of food that doesn’t have its own special festival somewhere on the calendar. While not all of them are of huge benefit to hospitality businesses, there are some that are definitely worth getting on board for – and that certainly includes Great British Beef Week 2017.

This annual celebration of all things beefy kicks off on St George’s Day, Sunday April 23, and runs through until 1 May, taking in the Bank Holiday weekend. Now in its seventh year, Great British Beef Week is organised by AHDB Beef & Lamb, the trade body set up to promote British meat, as well as the wonderfully-named Ladies in Beef, representing farmers and producers.

The popularity of beef on menus is clear. Research by industry analyst MCA Insight shows that beef is showing growth on menus across all foodservice sectors, while AHDB’s own category report shows that beef accounts for 41% of meat on menus.

However, there are also challenges. The fact that beef is so popular means that the price of many cuts is vulnerable to both seasonal peaks in demand and changing menu trends. The Spring 2017 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast, our regular update on the market, reports that demand for beef fillets and ribeye, as well as roasting joints, is currently strong.

While other cuts such as rump and sirloin are currently better value, it makes good commercial sense to use Great British Beef Week as an opportunity to promote beef dishes right across the menu, from burgers and barbecues to Sunday roasts. Ideas include:

  • Better Burgers: The burger is one of the most popular dishes on menus across the foodservice sector, and the upmarket gourmet burger continues to drive sales. The flexibility of the burger format means that operators can create their own signature burger with a few simple additions, such as a local cheese or a home-made relish. AHDB’s research shows that mincing trim from beef cuts such the rump, chuck or brisket can significantly improve the margin potential by adding customer appeal, as well as creating different tastes and textures that help to differentiate each burger in a competitive market.
  • Barbecue Bonanza: Research by Mintel shows that 32% of diners say they’d like to see more smoked flavours on menus when eating at a restaurant, with menu descriptors such as “fired” and “chargrilled” now much more familiar to customers through the new breed of specialist barbecue restaurants. Barbecue menus offer operators the opportunity to use some less expensive cuts of beef, using slow cooking and the addition of a tangy home-made barbecue sauce to create a premium dish.
  • Royal Roasts: The Sunday roast remains one of the most popular eating out occasion of the week, and upcoming events such as Easter, the two May Bank Holidays and Father’s Day, as well as Great British Beef Week, are all opportunities to spotlight premium beef roasts. In addition, AHDB sees mid-week opportunities to grow sales of ‘mini-joints’, smaller joints of beef weighing in at around 300–500g), trimmed to be leaner and ideal as a sharing dish.

Whichever cut you pick, British is ‘on trend’, so if beef comes from grass fed cattle or a rare breed, let consumers know on the menu. Interest in maturation is rising, and operators are increasingly telling consumers how long their beef is aged for. Many menus claim 21- and 35-day aged beef, with AHDB reporting that one outlet boasts 50 days.

Specifying steaks:

  • Working with a specialist catering butcher can make a big difference to the yield, and therefore the profit, an operator can expect from a cut of beef. This has become even more important in the current market, when rising inflation is pushing up the price. To take steak as an example, a whole striploin might look better value than pre-portioned standard trimmed steaks, but the fat and gristle will need to trimmed. This will reduce the yield, and each steak will need to be cut to weight for accurate portioning.
  • Unless a caterer is confident that they have the butchery skills in-house, Lynx Purchasing advises customers to order steaks individually rather than by weight – for example, 20 standard trim sirloin steaks, each 8oz in weight. Then, if the weight of an individual steak is over, it’s the butcher who bears the cost rather than the caterer. We also advise that meat is always weighed at the time of delivery to check it against what was ordered. The butcher can also use the trim from the striploin can be used to make burgers or the filling for steak pies – nothing is wasted, and the operator gets maximum value.

Lynx Purchasing is a Craft Guild of Chefs Business Partner, and works with more than 2,200 hospitality and catering operators to match them with the best suppliers and get the best possible prices on food and drink, as well as a whole range of essential products and services. Lynx’s buying experts help operators buy better and save time and money, year after year. The Lynx Purchasing GP Calculator App, the first digital product endorsed by the Craft Guild, is available to download for Apple and Android devices.

The Spring 2017 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast can be downloaded FREE at: www.lynxpurchasing.co.uk/market_report/spring-2017-market-forecast

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