Meat Merchandising │Next & Best Outlooks with Catie Beauchamp

The daughter of a hog farmer, Catie Beauchamp says she always knew she wanted to be in “AG” when she grew up. Today she is the VP of Technical Services at Colorado Premium, with a Ph.D. in Meat Safety & Quality.

Beauchamp’s3.18CPstaffpic (2) command of the beef production chain is highly astute, which includes, animal transport, harvest, carcass chilling, fabrication, grinding and storage. Her expertise in food technologies and safety is rivaled only by a laser focused passion for creating the best products for her customers.

How did you actually get into the “meat business”?

I knew I always wanted to be involved with agriculture, but on the nutrition side, which is what I started with in college. Then along the way, you meet people – in food microbiology and food production. That is how I came to do my graduate work in food science, meat science, and meat microbiology.

What do your days look like now?

From a departmental perspective, we do quality assurance, food safety, regulatory compliance, tech support for customers and R&D. We work in a high energy environment. When I started at CP [six years ago] we had 80-100 people and one production facility. Now we have three production facilities and two storage facilities. At any given time we have 30 projects in process. Our rate of commercialization is about 50% – it’s incredible!

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite area would be R&D. It’s fun to look into the future. You’re getting constant challenges, and when you resolve it, it’s a win. I love to create new products.

How do you do that with meat?

What we’re dealing with is an animal is that’s getting bigger and bigger. We have to address: How do we cut that? How should we process that? What do we need to do to have a good plate experience? You have to look at different cuts of meat in the carcass. There are other things we can use for things you wouldn’t expect.

For example, thin meats [flan3.19 CP Antimicrobial Interventionks, inside and outside skirts] are expensive, yet popular – but there’s only so much to be had because it’s such a small portion of the carcass. We can create new thin meats from other muscles that can mimic traditional thin meats. Skirts are expensive because they are in high demand and come from the small portion of the carcass. (Pictured Above: Antimicrobial Intervention Cabinet at one of Colorado Premium’s production facilities.)

Is it possible to come up with new steak cuts – like the Vegas Steak?

Yes, and no. The muscles without a lot of defects are pretty well known, but there should be a couple more ‘Vegas Steaks’ possible.

The combinations of muscles are standard in the Meat Buying Guide, but for a Packer to create a whole new SKU, break the muscles differently, etc., there has to be a market for it. You need to be able to merchandise all of it, plus find new ways to produce value.

From a steak perspective, the new novel items are going to have to be addressed in ways they haven’t been before, we need to look at fabricating. In addition to proper aging, tenderizing and injections, we’re going to have to look outside the box for processing.

Injection is a hot trend, how does that work from a production standpoint?

We marinate a lot of products, whether it’s tumble margination or injection. We do it for retail and food service. From a retail perspective, we provide products that are cook ready. From a food service perspective, we’re giving a little bit of insurance to meat drying out when cooked, especially for less than prime products.

How many speci3.19 PORK ROAST 2 - CITRUS HERBal service requests are you getting?

It depends on what market sector you’re talking about. In food service, restaurant groups are constantly reinventing themselves to stay competitive, usually on an annual basis. We work with a lot of up and coming concepts; our food service customers want to be on top of what’s new and available. (Pictured Left: Citrus Herb Pork Roast exclusively developed for a private label customer.)

In retail, the Millennials have impacted our business in a big way – they want clean labels, have more adventurous palettes, etc. Low sodium, clean labels and animal handling are key issues.

What is your definition of a ‘clean label’?

There are two sides to that question; one is the actual protein product itself. A portion of the population is interested in the use of antibiotics in animal feeding, etc. However, that’s still at a niche level and cost is also prohibitive for a lot of consumers.

The second part speaks to an ingredient perspective: people want to see things familiar to them on a retail package. (Food service is now adopting to that too.) Some ingredients are preservatives, some are for shelf life, but there’s also antimicrobials that ensure safety. Helping our customer base understand the purpose of antimicrobials is important to food safety.

What are your expectations on cattle supply?

As we start increasing the cattle supply we’ll be looking at something different – you still have areas in your prime states that don’t have water, plus other weather interferences that occur. There are people being weeded out of production groups that may never come back.

It’s very hard to project what volumes we’re going to have. The historical trends, peaks, and valleys can be thrown off trend, even when supply and demand are better. When consumers are paying higher prices, we need to produce healthy and affordable proteins. We have to get really good at how we merchandise beef.

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Fine Swine: Dry Aged Compart Duroc

Dry Aged Pork ChopsWhat can you find that’s new, unique and affordable to put on your menu? Just when you think there’s nothing on the market that could beat the epicurean luxury of dry aged beef, Compart Farms delivers a stunning alternative – dry aged Duroc pork.

Think dry aged pork is crazy? Think again! Compart Duroc Dry Aged Pork can spark new business for your operation, drive higher food margins, delight your guests and build customer base.

What Makes Fine Swine

Where the Black Angus breed of cattle is synonymous with superior quality, the same phenomenon is also true of Duroc pork. Duroc pork has been identified and documented by the National Pork Producers as a superior genetic source for improved eating.

Duroc-BoarOften described as “red pigs with drooping ears”, Duroc pork is thought to have come from Spain and Portugal dating back to the 1400’s. Unlike commodity pork deemed “the other white meat” by the National Pork Board, Duroc pork is bright reddish pink in color.

Pigs in the Compart Family Farms’ Duroc sired meat program, are of the same genetic makeup and fed the same proprietary ration throughout the growing and finishing phases. This combination reduces the variability routinely found in the pork industry today.

Only Compart’s Duroc pork contains a higher percentage of intramuscular fat (marbling) and a higher pH. Unlike ordinary pork, it is more heavily marbled, yet still 96% lean.

How Dry Aged Pork Works

Dry aging is an old world tenderization process that creates a more complex flavor in the meat. The outside of the meat becomes hard and envelops a crust, while the meat inside the crust develops a fine rich, concentrated flavor and tender texture, as the natural moisture in the muscle evaporates. When the meat has reached its desired age, the inedible outer crust is carefully removed and discarded.

Photo Feb 16, 5 26 52 PMTo properly dry age you must have separated refrigerated space with precise temperature, relative humidity and air circulation controls along with specific UV lighting to control bacteria growth to create the perfect environment. Compart Duroc whole pork loins sit in their dry aging room for 7-21 days compared to longer time spans used for beef. A shorter aging period is possible because pork loins are smaller and more delicate than beef, and thus take less time to achieve the benefits of dry aging.

The naturally more abundant intramuscular fat present in Compart Duroc pork provides the ability to adapt to the moisture loss of dry aging while still retaining the juiciness in the finished product. These attributes deliver optimum conditions for the dry aging process.

The end result is a firmer yet tender texture with a well refined flavor finish. Dry aging combined with the favorable muscle pH and marbling qualities of the Compart Duroc breed elevates pork to a whole new level.

Bag It Now!

Photo Feb 16, 5 27 32 PMTraditionally speaking, pork has not been dry aged – until now. The best cuts in this category you can buy for your menu are Compart’s Duroc dry aged pork Porterhouses and Ribeyes.

Compart Duroc Dry Aged Pork is an affordable, exciting new option to enhance your menu. It gives meat loving customers a new dining option and helps you drive additional margins for your operation.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Meat Picks | 1.13.15

Global Trade

Trib interviews BuedelOn the heels of receiving the Governor’s Award for Export last fall, Tribune Reporter, Kathy Bergen came to Buedel to talk about global trade, dry aged beef and the process of international export for the business section cover story: Cool Climate for Overseas Growth.

View the video version here: http://tinyurl.com/buedel-trib-interview-on-trade

Jean Banchet Awards

1-11 embaya event2.jpgLast Sunday, industry voting for the 2015 Jean Banchet Awards took place at Embeya – aka one of Chicago’s “Sexiest Restaurants” according to Zagat – at the Chef’s Social reception.

The actual awards for culinary excellence will be presented at the annual Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Grand Chef’s Gala January 30th.

Good luck to all of this year’s nominees:

Chef of the Year Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice), Thomas Lents (Sixteen at Trump), Chris Pandel (The Bristol/Balena), Lee Wolen (Boka)

Pastry Chef of the Year Dana Cree (Blackbird), Claire Crenshaw (moto), Meg Galus (NoMI), Greg Mosko (North Pond)

Best Chef-de-Cuisine Chris Marchino (Spiaggia), Ali Ratcliffe-Bauer (Brindille), John Vermiglio (A10),  Erling Wu-Bower (Nico Osteria),

Rising Chef of the Year Ashlee Aubin (Salero), Jake Bickelhaupt (42 Grams), Noah Sandoval (Senza), Nathan Sears (The Radler)

Rising Pastry Chef of the Year Sarah Koechling (The Bristol/Balena), Genie Kwon (Boka/GT Fish and Oyster), Megan Miller (Baker Miller Bakery & Millhouse), Jonathan Ory (Bad Wolf Coffee)

Best Sommelier Charles Ford (The Bristol), Arthur Hon (Sepia), Elizabeth Mendez (Vera), Dan Pilkey (Sixteen at Trump)

Best Mixologist Alex Bachman (Billy Sunday), Bradley Bolt (Bar Deville), Mike Ryan (Sable Kitchen & Bar), Krissy Schutte (CH Distillery)

Best Restaurant Design Boka, Celeste, Momotaro, The Radler

Best Restaurant Service Boka, Embeya, Senza, Sixteen at Trump

Best New Restaurant 42 Grams, Parachute, TÊTE Charcuterie, Salero

Best Neighborhood Restaurant A10, Dusek’s, Owen and Engine, La Sirena Clandestina

Restaurant of the Year L20, Boka, El Ideas, moto

Meat PressedFree Report Cover small

When prices rise, what do most people do? They go on the offense and figure out how to stretch their hard earned dollars in a challenging economy.

The same holds true for restaurants and hospitality.

How can you manage rising meat costs? Find better ways to buy! Check out our free report on How To Buy Beef Better in 2015 for market outlook, tips and ideas.

1.8JanIMCoverQuote-a-licious

As Julia Child once said, “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” In the dead of winter here, when a sizzling, juicy bone-in ribeye warms you up in a way kale or beets never could, I totally agree. –Amanda Heckert, Editor-in-Chief Indianapolis Monthly.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website   LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Meet Chuck, Your New Bestie

What’s one of the best things you can do to handle rising meat prices? Get to know Chuck!

With meat prices at an all time high, chefs and consumers alike are scrambling for ways to buy meat affordably. One of the best things you can do to meet the challenge is to get to know Chuck –intimately.

Chuck 101

ChuckMapThe upper shoulder area of a steer, the forequarter, is commonly known as the “Chuck”, comprised of a network of interconnected muscles that move the animal when it walks.

The amount of Chuck’s connective tissue makes it generally less tender and tougher than middle meats such as rib eye and strip loin. But what makes Chuck so attractive is its inexpensive price and versatility.

Chuck costs 30% – 40% less than other cuts. Worth repeating, Chuck costs 30% – 40% less than other cuts! Add this to the fact that Chuck can be ground, as well as cut into a variety of roasts and steaks, and it’s easy to see why hooking up with Chuck is an economically smart and versatile move.

Chuck Cuts

Below are just some of the varieties of ways Chuck can best serve your menu and budget when cut into roasts or steaks: (Pictures from BeefItsWhatsforDinner.com)

Roasts from the Chuck

Roasts cut from Chuck contain a lot of connective tissue, including collagen, which partially melts during cooking. This makes the meat excellent for stewing, slow cooking, braising, and pot roasting.

Chuck Roast (Pot Roast) Shoulder Pot Roast  Pot Roasts offer robust beef flavor; are lean, moist and tender when braised (pot roasting).
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 182 calories; 6 g fat

7-Bone Chuck Roast  The 7-Bone Chuck Roast includes a cross cut of the shoulder blade. The bone is shaped like a “7”, which gives the cut its name. The 7-Bone roast or “steak” is generally considered a rather tough cut of meat and needs to be slow cooked or braised.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 215 calories; 11 g fat

Petite Tender Roast  The Petite Tender, also known as the Teres Major, is the second most tender muscle in the animal after the Tenderloin. It’s found deep inside the Chuck and is lean, has a great beef flavor, a nice bite texture and is about half the price of Tenderloin. It can be roasted, or cut into 4oz medallions that look just like tenderloin filets which can be skillet cooked or grilled.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 150 calories; 6 g fat

Steaks from the Chuck

The different muscles found in the Chuck can be further cut into steaks. Recommended cooking methods are Marinate, Grill or Broil and Skillet.

Steak StripFlat Iron Steak  Also known as Shoulder Top Blade Steak and Top Blade Steak
The Flat Iron Steak is a trending favorite on many of today’s menus. It is the sixth most popular steak at restaurants in the U.S. now according to recent statistics provided by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 189 calories; 11 g fat

Chuck Eye Steak  Also known as English Steak, London Broil and Shoulder Steak
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 178 calories; 9 g fat

Ranch Steak  Also known as Shoulder Center Steak. Ranch steak is cut from the shoulder roast; it has a beefy flavor but is tough. It is best when braised, or grilled, to no more than medium.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 155 calories; 6 g fat

Short Ribs  Also known as Chuck Short Ribs. Short ribs can be bone-in or boneless, are hearty in flavor and offer a versatile number of menu options –absolutely delicious when slow roasted or braised.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 201 calories; 11 g fat

Wrap Up

ChuckGroundLast, but not least, Chuck also makes a highly flavorful Ground. It is often used for Hamburgers, Meatloaf, Meatballs, and as an ingredient in many ethnic dishes.
Nutritionals: 3-ounce cooked serving: 215 calories; 13 g fat

You can’t beat the affordability and versatility of Chuck. Use these cuts with creativity and help manage your food costs, increase your food margins and satiate your appetite.

For more tips and ideas read, Value Steaks from Lesser Known Cuts and Cheat Sheet for Meat. Find recipe ideas at: http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/recipes.aspx.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats   Facebook

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How Food Margins Get You to the Bank

The majority of chefs and restaurateurs we talk with use food cost percentages as a primary measure of effective purchasing and implied profitability. Monitoring food cost percentages is certainly an important metric; however it is margin dollars that take you to the bank –not food cost percentages.

What if I told you that you could make more money, i.e. real margin dollars, with a higher food cost percentage? Crazy, right? Read on…

Percent V. Margin

The Food Cost Percentage measures the cost of the ingredients as a percentage of the menu selling price of a dish:10.21MarginCalc3

Most would agree this is a good metric that measures the purchasing side of the equation. However, it fails to tell you how much money you made and by itself paints an incomplete picture.

To calculate the food cost percentage for an entire menu in aggregate for a time period, inventories are necessary:

10.21MarginCalc2If you were expecting a theoretical food cost percentage to be 39% and your actual food cost percentage was 45%, that difference is a measure of inefficiency.

The reasons for such discrepancies may be caused by over portioning, theft, poor product rotation, spoilage or excessive waste. Subtract your Actual Food Cost from the Expected Food Cost and multiply that result by sales for the period, to understand how much money was wasted for that time period.

Actual Food Cost Percentages vs. Expected Food Cost Percentages can help you identify problem areas in the kitchen. However, looking at food cost percentages alone fails to tell you how much money you actually made or lost.  It’s margin dollars that pay the bills not food cost percentages.

Margins Bank Bucks

Your Food Margin measures the actual margin dollars a menu item contributed to your bottom line profits. You take margin dollars to the bank, not food cost percentages.

Focusing on a menu item’s contributing margin dollars versus food cost percentage can potentially make you more money despite a higher food cost percentage. Thus, focusing on Food Margins could then be a more impactful method to building a profitable menu.

Calculate the Food Margin of an item by subtracting the Total Item Cost from the Menu Selling Price. This will illustrate the profit made every time you sell this item:

10.21MarginCalc1The following example compares the two methods on a typical menu decision:

10.21MarginChartAt first glance, the steak sandwich cost appears significantly more expensive to produce than the chicken –until you take a look at the cash drawer.

In this example, the gross profit on the steak sandwich is 16% higher than the gross profit on the chicken sandwich, yet has a 12% higher food cost percentage. You will take more actual dollars to the bank with the steak sandwich in this case by focusing on Food Margins instead of Food Cost percentages.

Plus One

Add one more part to the equation – the psychology of your customer.

Consumers prefer to pay a little more when they perceive the item to be of higher value. It’s called the “Price-Quality Effect” as researched in Holden and Nagle’s book, The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing, A Guide to Growing More Profitably.

According to Holden and Nagle, price-quality research provides, “…customers worry less about the price if higher prices denote higher quality. Creating a perception of exclusivity, rareness or quality will persuade the buyer to be okay with spending more. The product itself doesn’t need to be of the highest quality. If the branding denotes a high-quality ethos, customers will spend.”

Bank on it!

The next time you review your end of period financial statements and think, my food cost percentages are too high, the ingredients I’m buying are too expensive, and/or I can’t afford to upgrade my food, figure the bankable math first!

Calculate your food margins and note all higher qualities on your menu. Train your wait staff to properly explain higher quality and leverage the psychology of the price-quality effect.

Bank on Food Margins versus Food Cost %.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Quality Doesn’t Cost, It Pays

9.8Foodstuff IndexWe’re all paying more for food now than we did last year. According to a recent report by Bloomberg’s Chase van der Rhoer, food prices are up 19% from December of last year. In the meat industry, we’ve seen as much as 44% food cost inflation since 2012 on many popular cuts.

At the same time, average base pay increases for 2014 will remain at 3 percent for the second year in a row in the U.S.—roughly one percentage point below pre-recession levels, according to the seventh annual Compensation Planning Survey by Buck Consultants.

The dichotomy of faster food price escalation over wages presents major challenges for restaurateurs. How do you maintain profits with food costs escalating faster than your customer’s disposable income?

Quality Costs Customers

Restaurant patrons are faced with paying higher prices—myself included. I’m much more discerning about where I spend my money now. I want quality, and a dining experience that satisfies me—that makes me feel my hard earned money was well spent. People want to walk out of a restaurant saying, “We’d come back here!” no matter if it’s fast casual or fine dining.

Some of my favorite local restaurants have cut the quality on their food to deal with higher food costs this year. As a customer, it’s disappointing to me. I find myself saying, ‘No, let’s not go there. It’s not as good as it used to be.’ I’d rather spend a little more money and go to a place where I walk away feeling satisfied and delighted.

What gives customers that, ‘come back’ feeling? It’s a combination of great service and great quality food. When I have a bad experience with the service, but the food is delicious, I’m much more forgiving than when I have bad food experience. When the food quality is poor or less than what I expected, I’m hesitant to go back. Sure nobody’s perfect and there are times when something goes wrong, but if I give the place another try and I have the same poor quality food experience, I’m done—cross that place off my list.

How do you feel when you dine out and are met with disappointment?

How Quality Pays

9.8Quality EffectWhen buyers opt for lowest prices despite quality, customer experience problems often begin. Quality ultimately reduces costs and builds customer loyalty. While that’s hard to measure on comparative bid sheets, there are many studies that prove quality pays in the long run.

In the 1979 book, Quality is Free, author Philip B. Crosby explains the idea of understanding the true “cost of poor quality,” by illustrating out how much it really costs to do things badly. Crosby demonstrates the cost of bad quality is inevitably more than the higher costs of good quality from the onset.

Every dollar you don’t spend on making up for poor quality becomes a dollar right to your bottom line. In the food service industry, every dollar you don’t spend to comp a meal, replace spoilage or decrease yields on finished goods from cheaper products, are dollars going straight to your bottom line.

Good quality increases income by attracting more customers and repurchase probabilities. At the same time, good quality lowers costs by elimination of lost business, rework and waste. Some studies show that implementing quality-focused programs can increase profits by 5%-10% of sales. Quality is not only free; it pays.

Quality is Relative to Consistency

What most restaurant patrons look for is consistency. When it comes to food, consistency starts with the quality of the products purchased. They can be consistently good in quality, consistently bad in quality, or inconsistent in quality. When food is purchased consistently good or consistently bad, the result is predictable. The worst scenario is when there is inconsistent quality.

Inconsistent quality usually stems from shopping for the lowest price and being fooled by the promise of quality. We see this every day in the supply side of the food service industry. Potential customers send out bid sheets with generic descriptions of the products they want prices on like, “GROUND BEEF” or “CHOICE FILET—ben franklin28 OZ”, and then often buy the lowest bid. This is why shopping the ‘exact same item’ is so important; not all ‘GROUND BEEF’ or ‘CHOICE FILET—8 OZ’ are the same.

Any purveyor can quote a low price week to week using lower quality products to win the bid. But in the end, what do low quality, lower bid winning products really do for your restaurant? They deliver inconsistency and ultimately damage future returns.

Increase Quality & Consistency

Quality Doesn’t Cost, It Pays! was a tag line a friend of mine had painted on his produce trucks. I love this expression because it speaks directly to successful food cost management. Here are four cost savvy tips you can use to help increase quality and consistency:

  • Survey your staff. What does your wait staff hear from your guests about the food quality and consistency? What do your chefs and line cooks say about the quality of the food they prep?
  • Check your garbage. How much and what kind of foodstuffs are in your back of the house garbage? Low priced/Low quality food often spoils faster, has more waste and less yield. How much uneaten food are your bussers clearing off the table? Were your guests less hungry than they thought, or less happy with the quality of their meal?
  • Be specific and finite with your purchase specifications. Cite brand names or sources, specific quality grades and origins.
  • Work with suppliers that care about quality as much as you do. Define what quality means to you and how you measure it. If your suppliers don’t understand your true objectives, their guestimates can introduce inconsistent quality.

Paying a lower vendor price versus a higher one seems like a beneficial move—but the critical comparative here is that the purchase is for the exact same item. Look beyond price and focus on quality to improve your bottom line. You will reap positive results in the long run and be glad you did.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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The Latest on Finely Textured Beef

The Wall Street Journal called me last month for thoughts on a piece they were doing regarding the resurgence of finely textured beef (aka “pink slime”) in answer to rising beef prices.

Back in August of 2012,img-learn-packaging-overwrap we addressed the potential future impact on the industry due to the pink slime hysteria ignited by the media on consumer markets. (Read 1 of 10 Things (at the very least) the Foodservice Industry DOES want you to know.)

Thousands of good working people ultimately lost their jobs at companies producing Finely Textured Beef (FTB) who were forced to shut down from an avalanche of cancelled orders due to the misguided media frenzy. What made the situation even more exasperating was the fact that these production processes were USDA approved. All laws and regulations were followed, but it was the processors that bore the immediate brunt of the fallout.

When this occurred, the beef industry was experiencing its lowest herd numbers since 1955 due to drought, and the impact of removing FTB from the food supply required a substantially large amount of additional cattle to fill the demand gap for ground beef.

It was more than logical to predict these effects would likely drive up cattle futures and eventually the price of ground beef for all of us.

How Much is Too Much?

Before the pink slime hysteria in 2012, the average price of 100% ground beef in 2011 was $2.78/lb as per the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has been tracking ground beef prices since 1984. By May 2014, the average price of 100% ground beef was $3.85/lb, a 38% price increase compared to the 2% average annual rate of inflation in the United States. Just last weekend, a friend of mine told me she paid almost $5/lb. for 80/20 ground beef at her local grocery store. Consumers, retailers and regrill imagesstaurateurs are all paying much more now for ground beef.

Ground beef is the most bought and consumed type of beef by far. With that in mind, combined with the fact that beef prices are at record highs, it’s no wonder that finely textured beef is indeed making a comeback.  Retailers and consumers, perhaps now more properly educated on the subject, are purchasing products that include FTB in the ingredients.

FTB is currently sold to over 400 retail, food-service and food-processing customers, more than before the 2012 controversy, albeit overall in smaller amounts. Production of finely textured beef has also recently doubled at some manufacturing plants from its low point after the controversy.

Environmentally Sound

The production process for finely textured beef recovers lean beef from steak and roast fat trimmings that would otherwise be wasted. It is made the same way the dairy industry makes cream by using centrifugal force to separate the cream from milk. Cargill posted an easy to follow video outlining the start to finish process early this year; watch it here.

ftbThe maximized use of harvested animals, further popularized by “nose-to-tail” culinary trends, also makes the most of the limited natural resources used to produce beef. Conversely, in a market free of FTB, the following occurs: 1.5M more head of cattle are needed to fill the gap, 10.5M more acres of land is used for grazing those cattle, 375B more gallons of water is utilized to feed and process the cattle and 97M more bushels of corn is needed to feed them, which is grown on 600K more acres of land.

Wrap Up

On the surface, the return of FTB to the market would seem to indicate retailers and consumers are more concerned about cost than method. The good news is, environmentally sound USDA approved beef practices, which produce quality ground beef at better prices, is back.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats Facebook

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5 Tips to Keep from Paying More

One of our vetupsidedownpiggybankeran team members has been in the meat business for almost 50 years. To the many pricing peaks and valleys he’s seen over the decades, he remedies, “It’s not about us, but how we can help our customers to keep from paying more.”

This year we’ve seen tremendous price inflation on beef and pork. Beef prices are higher due to the low cattle supply, and pork prices are higher due to do the PED virus killing piglets.  As consumers, we’re paying more for commodities like bacon and ground beef.  On average, prices are as much as 20% higher than last year.

Our job as a partner to our customers at Buedel Fine Meats is to help them deal with rising prices and supply them with options to ‘keep from paying more’ than necessary in a rising market. How can you control costs in a rising market then? Here are five savings tips you can use:

1.  Bill & Hold

An option we offer our customers when prices are on the rise is the opportunity to Bill & Hold. They make a volume purchase at current market rates, and we hold their inventory, delivering it to them as needed – it is a highly flexible solution.

This method gives customers a fixed predictable cost for as much inventory as they can purchase without having to take delivery all at once. Customers can then reap the benefit of a predictable food cost with locked-in menu profits on the items they select for delivery when they need them. One of our customers who took advantage of this option currently enjoys grndbeefground beef at 50% less cost than the current market price.

2.  Reduce Portion Size

You can keep from paying more out of pocket while still keeping product quality intact by making portion size adjustments as a means of saving center of the plate cost. Reducing the portion size by just one ounce can deliver a 13% reduction in your out of pocket cash flow.

For example, let’s say you serve a 8oz Tenderloin Filet that costs you $18.00/lb. Your portion cost on this would be $9.00, but a 7oz portion cost would be $7.88, a cash flow savings of $1.13 per portion. This type of cost reduction can add up substantially over time.

3.  Change Trim Specs  

French and Rust Cut Pork Rib ChopsThe more you trim off the steak or chop, the lower the finished good yield. The lower the finished good yield, the higher the cost. Evaluate your trim specifications and determine if you can adjust them to increase the yield and reduce your food costs.

Here are two examples of how this works:

If you’re serving a French Cut Bone-in Rib Chop, consider an un-Frenched version and offer it on your menu as a “Rustic Cut”. Leaving the meat on the bone [un-Frenched] can reduce your portion costs by as much as 20%.

For center-cut only steaks or chops on your ala carte menu, consider the options for purchasing full-cut steaks or chops. The yield difference can reduce your food portion cost by 10%-20%.

4.  Use Alternative Cuts

HangersTake advantage of value cuts, which you can offer on your menu at a lower price, yet deliver the same or higher margins for your operation.  An example of these would be hanger steaks, bistro steaks and double cut bone-in pork chops.

5.  Buy More & Decrease Deliveries

Purchasing more items when prices are rising seems like an oxymoron.  However, consider how the challenges of your purveyor partners factors in the equation. If you purchase just one or two items from a purveyor, then that purveyor needs to configure your pricing to cover 100% of their distribution costs on just those items with each delivery.

Distributors will typically determine your average delivery size and set pricing accordingly. If you work with your purveyor, to purchase more of the items they offer and/or reduce by the number of  deliveries, the purveyor will have more flexibility to spread their costs/margins over multiple items per delivery. This gives your purveyor the benefits of economies of scale and cost reductions that they can (and usually will) pass on to you. Remember, quality service purveyors want to earn your business.

Takeaway

Five methodLightbulb2s you can use to help defray meat costs in a rising market are Bill & Hold, Reduce Portion Size, Use Alternative Cuts, Change Trim Specs and Buy More & Decrease Deliveries.

Train your culinary staff to segregate cuts where they can best be utilized. Buedel also offers free trainings and consultations. We help staff members evaluate their options and educate them on alternative cuts, different trim spec options, and how to apply them to a variety of menu applications.

Be collaborative with your suppliers. Openly and honestly discuss win-win scenarios with them to find best solutions. In doing so, you will likely benefit over the long term and keep from paying more.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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WHERE’S THE BEEF?

Have you noticed the rise in beef prices lately? Or, should I say, ‘OMG – what’s going on with the price of beef?’

pricesIn a nut shell, there is a shortage of cattle nationwide. Demand exceeds supply, so prices are on the rise. Next question: Why are we short on cattle supply and when will it get better?

First, let’s understand the key components of how beef gets to market in an easily digestible way.

BEEF SUPPLY CHAIN

Cow-Calf Operators  Our beef supply starts with these folks. These are the farmers or ranchers that keep cows to produce calves to sell. A mother cow’s gestation period is a little over 9 months. A newborn calf takes about another 12 months to reach 400-500 lbs. before they can be sold off to feeders. They make their money by selling off their calves, which the industry calls Feeder Cattle.

Feed Lots / Backgrounders These are companies  that purchase the 400-500 lb. calves and feed them to harvest weight, typically 1,200 – 1,400 lbs. Feed lot operators use grain for feed. Backgrounders keep the animals on grass for feed. Grain fed animals take about 6 months to reach harvest weight. Grass fed animals can take up to 9 months to reach harvest weight. These feeders make their money selling animals, called Fed Cattle, to packing plants for harvest.

beef supply chainFuture prices for both feeder cattle and fed cattle are traded as commodities on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). The future price of cattle is a reasonable indication where beef prices are headed.

Packing Plants  The companies that purchase fed cattle at harvest weight typically between 18-24 months old, harvest them for beef production. The largest packing plants in the country are run by Cargill, Tyson, JBS and National Beef, who operate multiple plants across the country. These packers make their money selling the beef they harvest to further processors and distributors who bring their finished goods to market to the end users – retail stores and food service operators.

Adding it all up, it takes over two years for one animal to come to market. Each operator in the trail needs to make a profit to remain in business.

THE CATTLE CYCLE

The Cattle Cycle is the alternating expansion and contraction of the U.S. beef cattle supply. Under normal conditions, the cattle cycle is approximately a ten year period. During this time period, the supply of cattle will be alternatively expanded and reduced over several consecutive years, in response to changes in profitability by the cow-calf operators.

When cattle numbers are high, beef prices are lower, which precipitates several years of herd liquidation. As cattle numbers decline, beef prices begin to rise, prompting several years of herd building.

The herd building cycle is relatively long due to the length of time it takes a cow-calf operator to expand a cow herd by breeding more cattle between the cow’s 9 month gestation period and the subsequent 12 month period it takes for a calf to reach feeding weight. Ultimately, the cycle takes at least 3 years before an increase in beef production will be seen on the market.

DroughtMapTHE DROUGHT OF 2011-2012

The available supply of fed cattle had been declining since 2010 amidst a normal cattle cycle until the severe drought of 2011-2012 that disrupted everything.

Over 80% of the nation’s agricultural land was hit hard by severe drought. Seed crops used for feed dried up and prices of feed shot up. No crops meant no feed for livestock. Ranchers couldn’t fatten up their herds profitably, so they sold them for slaughter.

Beef production has dropped nearly 8% since then. Three years ago, meat packers processed an average of 620,000 cattle a week; today that number is in the low 500,000′s. The U.S. is the world’s top beef producer, and our nation’s cattle herd is currently at a 63 year low. Experts predict that it make as many as 8 years for U.S. agriculture to fully recover from the effects of the drought.

BEEF PRICES

The economic laws of supply and demand largely determine what we pay for beef. Beef demand was up 1.7% in 2013 to the highest level since 2008. Overall beef demand is 7.4% higher than 15 years ago, which is a bigger increase than  pork, chicken or turkey. Export demand for U.S. beef in 2013 was up 4.9% compared to the year before and was 24.2% greater than 15 years ago.

chart-retail-meat-pricesHigher demand and lower supply caused beef prices to rise.

Beef prices have been on the rise since the drought, and especially so over the past six months. We’re just now feeling the real impact of the low cattle supply. Live cattle futures closed at an all time high in February at $150/cwt. – 16% higher than last year.

It is expected cow-calf producers will continue to build their herds as they are getting higher prices for their cattle this year. Feed lot operators, while benefiting from declining feed costs, are losing that benefit by paying higher prices for feeder cattle to keep up with demand. Consequently, packing plants are paying more for fed cattle and passing on the increased prices to consumers.

Ultimately, consumer demand will determine the future prices of beef. Retailers and restaurants will eventually need to pass on these increases and consumers will either accept them, or reject them by spending their dollars on lower cost alternatives. It remains to be seen how all of this will play out in real time, but it appears we will see high beef prices throughout 2014.

TIPS FOR RISING PRICES

In the midst of the drought, we posted a blog (October 2012) that is even more relevant today with strategies to battle the rising cost of beef: What’s Your Beef? | How to Combat the Rising Fallout Cost of Drought.

beef-300x282Chefs and restaurateurs should look for suppliers that are able to create customized solutions tailored to their specific cost management needs. Having a strong partnership with key suppliers who can demonstrate creativity and flexibility, is the best way to deal with rising beef prices.

Ironically, it was 30 years ago this past January, when Clara Pellar shot to rock star status when she queried, WHERE’S THE BEEF? Here’s the link.

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Dollars & Cents vs. Dollars & Sense

Let’s compare and contrast two stories in the recent news about pork production.  One is a story of dollars and cents, and one is a story of dollars and sense.

Dollars & Cents

3D chrome Dollar symbolLast September, Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer sold itself to the Chinese for $4.7B. Smithfield raises about 15M pigs per year producing over 6B pounds of pork sold under popular brand names including Farmland, Armour, Cook’s Ham, Krakus Ham, Patrick Cudahy and John Morrell. When the sale to Chinese went through, Smithfield’s CEO stated: “This is a great transaction for all Smithfield stakeholders, as well as for American farmers and U.S. agriculture. The partnership is all about growth, and about doing more business at home and abroad. It will remain business as usual — only better — at Smithfield.”

‘Business as usual’ is a telling comment. Smithfield is notorious for factory farming; incorporating the use of inhumane gestation crates, confined animal feeding operations and environmental pollution.

To quell some of the220px-Gestation_crates_3 negative press, Smithfield is “recommending that its contract growers phase out the practice of keeping female hogs in small metal crates while pregnant.” This is quite the bold move for a factory farmer where disease, pollution and animal confinement are standard practice.

On 1/21/14 more news broke: Problems Persist After Smithfield Sells Out to Shuanghui; Future Remains Uncertain.  The Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation and Waterkeeper Alliance issued a Notice of Intent to sue the current and former owners and operators of a Smithfield owned feeding operation, located in North Carolina, to stop pollution caused by illegal waste disposal.

Dollars & Sense

Ironically, one day earlier, the NY Times posted this story: Demand Grows for Hogs That Are Raised Humanely Outdoors.

Consumer awareness and c7960787444_a1b4b8476d_ooncern about the use of antibiotics, humane animal treatment and the environment is growing. More chefs and restaurateurs are featuring pasture raised, all natural pork on their menus. The popularity of “farm-to-fork” and “nose-to-tail dishes” is growing.

Opposite to the Smithfield mass production model, pigs raised by family farmers who use sustainable production methods which preserve the land and its resources for future generations, is fast becoming en vogue. The pigs are happy, the farmers are happy, and consumers are happy eating a better product.

pigsinsnow-300x224Pigs raised outdoors using traditional farming and animal husbandry methods cost more because it costs more to raise them this way.  However, the Times article also points out that as much as consumers say they want their meat to come from humanely raised animals, they still resist paying higher prices for pasture-raised pork.

This resistance is what continues to drive companies like Smithfield to keep producing cheap pork, and the consequences that go along with it.

Finding Middle Ground

The situation becomes one of trade-offs. Which is worse: Paying less for cheap pork thereby supporting the issues associated with pervasive factory farming, or paying more for pork thereby supporting the issues associated with humane, natural and sustainable farming? In my opinion, one will never fully replace the other, but both can improve.

As a consumer, I prefeMenusr to spend a little more to eat healthier and better tasting naturally raised pork. I also feel good that a by-product of my preference, is supporting the family farmer.

On the other side of the fence, I see the daily dilemma Buedel Fine Meats customers face between their desire to avoid offering commodity pork and trying to manage their food costs. Many chefs and restaurateurs are simply unable to absorb the higher cost of all natural pasture raised pork and maintain their desired profits.  They too are voting with their dollars.

Perhaps there is a middle ground.

A movement to change the status quo can be ignited by slowly adding pasture raised pork items to meals and menus. Start with one or two items, promote them and educate the consumer on the value. My guess is that a few will stick, and then maybe a few more.

If we all do this, we can begin to deliver a subtle message to the Smithfield’s of the world in a language they understand – money.  Soon they’ll listen because they have to return profits to their shareholders.  When the factory farmers see more dollars being spent for pasture raised pork, they’ll want to capture some of the growing segment – then someday perhaps, most of it, and we’ll all be better off.

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Wild Boar: A Unique & Delicious All Natural Meat

Wild Boar DishesWho isn’t looking for new menu ideas? How about one that’s unique, incredibly tasty, all natural, free range, humanely handled, lean and reasonably priced? Plus, how would you feel if adding this food to your menu could also ultimately help the environment?

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Well, it’s not, when you get to know more about Wild Boar.

Boar 101

The most common names for boar are Wild Boar, Wild Hog, Feral Pig, Feral Hog, Old World Swine, Razorback, Eurasian Wild Boar and Russian Wild Boar. Unlike domestic pork, wild boar is a bit sweeter with notes of nuttiness and a clean taste that’s neither gamey nor greasy. They are leaner than pork with one-third less fat, calories and cholesterol.

Wild boar grow to about 5 feet long and weigh up to 300 lbs. – smaller and leaner than farm raised hogs for pork production. Their diet includes acorns, hickory nuts, pecans, grass, roots, apples and just about any farmed crop they can invade. It is their diet, which gives their meat a unique flavor profile.

In Europe and Asia, boar is farmed for their meat and treasured for their taste. Called, “Sanglier”, in French, and “Cinghiale”, in Italian, boar can be commonly found in butcher shops and offered as a staple in restaurants. Boar is one of the highest priced meats in Germany and thought of as an aphrodisiac in China.

Texas Wild BoarHogs, wild or otherwise, are not native to the United States. They were first brought to the new world by Christopher Columbus who introduced them to the Caribbean.  Hernando De Soto brought them to Florida in the 1500’s, and they made their way across the Southern United States.

Early Texan settlers let pigs roam free until needed – some were never recovered. During wars and economic downturns, many settlers abandoned their homesteads and the pigs were left to fend for themselves. In the 1930s, Eurasian wild boars were brought to Texas and released for hunting. They bred with the free-ranging domestic animals adapted to the wild.

An Invasive Species

Today, most domestic wild boar, are feral hogs, which can rapidly increase their population. Sows can have up to 10 offspring per litter and are able to have two litters per year. Each piglet reaches sexual maturity at 6 months of age. They have virtually no natural predators and thrive in just about any condition.

With a population in the millions in the U.S., Wild Feral Hogs are wreaking havoc across the Southern states. Traveling alone or in packs, they devour whole fields of rice, wheat and/or vegetables. Corn Farmers have discovered that the hogs methodically trod their planted rows during the night, extracting seeds one by one – they even go after food set out for livestock.  The hogs also erode the soil and disrupt native vegetation when they tromp the ground; this also makes it easy for invasive plants to take hold.

Wild Boar TrapFree Range, All Natural & Humane

Wild Boar is a free range animal. No gestation crates, no antibiotics, no growth hormones  –  the ultimate humanely raised all natural meat.

Most domestic wild boar come from Texas where state laws require they must be taken alive and humanely handled for harvest purposes. Hunters are allowed to kill wild hogs year-round without limits. Hunters also have the option of live capture for transport to slaughterhouses to be processed and sold to grocers, butcher shops and restaurants as exotic meat.  When sold commercially as meat, wild hogs must be taken alive to one of nearly 100 statewide buying stations.

One method of capture, popularized by the A&E reality television series American Hoggers, uses trained dogs to sniff out the wild boars, chase them down and hold them by their ears. Trappers then tie them up and cart them off to holding pens for transport.

Where the reality show makes for good TV, the preferred method for capture is a lot less exciting.  Trappers simply bait a cage or a large fenced area with food attractive to the wild hogs, such as fermented corn, but not to other animals. The trapdoor is left open for several days until the hogs become comfortable with it enough to walk in and eat; the trap door then closes.

From the buying stations, the trapped hogs are taken to a processing plant overseen by USDA Inspectors and Veterinarians.  Processing includes a testing regimen for e-Coli, Salmonella, and Trichinae.  Food safety is paramount and supported by a Letter of Guarantee.

Wild Boar NutritionA Healthy Alternative Protein

Compared to pork, Wild Boar is lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and higher in protein – higher in protein than pork, beef, lamb and chicken, to be exact.

Wild boar comes in the same type of cuts as pork and can be substituted for pork in like dishes.  It can be smoked, barbecued, grilled, roasted, braised, fried and, marinated.  Ground Wild Boar is also popular in Italian Bolognaise.

The Food Network offers a variety of Wild Boar recipe ideas for menu inspiration. You can find the most popular Wild Boar cuts available at Buedel Fine Meats:

  • Tenderloin
  • Frenched 10 Rib Rack
  • Saddles
  • Strip Loin
  • Legs – bone in
  • Legs – boneless
  • Shoulder
  • Bellies
  • Shanks
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • St. Louis Ribs
  • Trimmings

Adding Wild Boar to your menu gives you something unique to offer your guests with the benefits of all natural, free range and humanely handled marketing. You can help the environment, offer a healthy protein and provide a delicious feature with Wild Boar. Try it!

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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Meat Picks | 1.10.14

Dining Awards

TribAwardsThe Chicago Tribune 2014 Dining Awards were announced earlier this week. Gleaned from the experience of “1,000 meals consumed”, throughout the Chicagoland area, this marks the “4th Annual” list produced by Trib writers, Phil Vittel, Kevin Pang and Josh Noel.

Chef of the Year was awarded to Curtis Duffy, “who made 2013 the year of Grace”. Other Chefs and Restaurants named who left “the most indelible impressions” over the last year are:

Restaurateur, Jason Chan, Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp – Chefs/Owners, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo – Owners, Fat Rice, Carlos Gaytan – Chef/owner, Mexique, Thomas Lents – Executive chef, Sixteen, Paul McGee – Partner in Three Dots and a Dash and Bub City,  Amy Morton – Owner, Found Kitchen and Social House,  Carrie and Michael Nahabedian – Owners, Brindille and Naha, Erick Williams – Executive chef, mk and County Barbeque and James Spillane – Owner, Armitage Pizzeria. See pictures and full reviews here.

Restaurant Forecast

marketshare2014logospromoNRN reports the “fast-casual segment will continue to be the disruptive force it has been for years to both quick service and casual dining,” in 2014. A recent survey of the market, provides conditions are deemed, “favorable for opportunistic brands in categories awash with independent concepts, such as pizza, coffee and tea, doughnuts, and bakery sandwiches…”. Expectations for stealing market share in these areas are qualified as positive.

Ways to Trim the Fat

Who isn’t looking for new ways to be fiscally responsible this year? Chefs often use small box and portion control programs to help reduce costs and manage their cash flow. One option that’s often overlooked 190A tenderloin optionsare steak-ready primal cuts.

When you buy steak-ready primal cuts, you can get the benefits of paying a lower price per pound compared to portion control steaks and chops, without the hidden food costs from waste generated working with whole primal cuts. Read more on our blog: How to Slim Down Your Food Costs in the New Year.

It’s Baa-aack

2014RestaurantWeekRestaurant Week grows to a full two weeks this year, up from 10 days last year. (Hashtag: CRW.) 286 restaurants served over 513,000 diners at last year’s event which produced $26.9 million in spending. The First Bites Bash will once again kick off the 14 day event, on Thursday, January 23rd at Union Station, hosted by Executive Chef, Paul Kahan.

Find the current list of participating restaurants at ChooseChicago.com and buy tickets to the charity driven First Bites Bash at Eventbrite.

P.S.

In case you missed it – here’s the first “official day” listing of the year. Our favorite is this Sunday: Fruitcake Toss Day. January 12th is also Marzipan Day. Is it just our imagination, or is that redundant?

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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One way to Slim Down Your Food Costs in the New Year

January marks the advent of personal resolve to shed pounds and live healthier.  For many restaurants, it also marks the start of new fiscal resolutions to cut costs, grow sales and reap higher profits.

Small box and portion control programs can help restaurants reduce costs and better manage their cash flow. One option that often goes unnoticed is steak-ready primal cuts.

189AAvoid Hidden Food Costs

People often purchase whole primal cuts of boxed beef or pork and break them down in-house to menu sized portions because they cost less per pound compared to purchasing portion control steaks or chops. For example, a whole beef tenderloin may cost between $9-$12/lb compared to $18-$24/lb for a portion cut tenderloin filet. Buying the whole beef tenderloin saves you money, right?  Well, that depends. It’s all about the finished good yield.

If you’re serving 100% of that whole tenderloin as a filet on your menu, then one could argue money is being saved. However, you’d be doing so at the expense of quality and customer satisfaction because there is a tremendous amount of fat and sinew in a whole tenderloin that your customers won’t enjoy eating. That goes for strip loins, rib eyes, pork loins, veal and lamb loins too.

In reality, if you trim off anything you won’t be serving, you will end up paying more than you thought. Many restaurants either throw the trimmings in the trash, or use them for making other items like ground beef, which they could have purchased for less than $4/lb. This is where hidden costs exist and are most often ignored in food cost accounting.

Hybrid Cost Saving Solution

190AFor those who want to purchase whole primal cuts and cut their own steaks or chops, a hybrid cost saving solution is to purchase steak-ready or chop-ready primal cuts. The most common steak-ready primal cuts are:

 

  • Tenderloin
  • Strip Loin
  • Rib Eye
  • Top Sirloin
  • Outer Skirt Steak
  • Flank Steak

When you buy steak-ready primal cuts, you will get the benefits of paying a lower price per pound compared to portion control steaks and chops, without the hidden food costs from waste generated working with whole primal cuts. You can also better manage your cash flow by purchasing only the quantities you need versus having to make larger cash outlays for master cases of boxed meats.

Enjoy the benefits of steak-ready primal cuts:

  • No Waste – Cut your own steaks without the yield loss.  You have the flexibility of cutting to any portion sizes you need for your menu quickly and easily without the waste and cost of inedible fat and sinew.
  • No Hidden Costs – You will eliminate the hidden costs incurred from buying whole boxed primal cuts.
  • No By-Products – You can purchase the by-products you would have generated from your supplier at a lower cost per pound: Ground Beef, Stew Meat and Fajita Meat.
  • Roast Ready – Steak-Ready primal cuts can also be roasted whole and carved tableside. This gives you more options and more flexibility for your dollar.
  • Less Cash Outlay – You can purchase just the quantities you need versus incurring the spend for whole master cases of boxed primal cuts. This can mean as much as an 85% reduction in cash outflows for meats  for your business.
  • Quicker Inventory Turns –  You may buy quantities as needed on a just-in-time basis reducing your inventory carrying costs.

Do the Math

Take a look at the following example of how the buying options for tenderloin can play out:

BEEF TENDERLOIN COMPARATIVE PURCHASING OPTIONS

Key Terms To Know
As Purchased Cost:Total cost per pound of the product purchased.
Purge: Unusable, inedible materials, blood and the plastic packaging.
Yield: Amount of acceptable edible portions produced; measured by the pound.
Edible Portion: Total pounds of product that can be eaten.
Edible Portion Cost: The actual cost per edible portion.

OPTION A:  BOXED BEEF/CUT YOUR OWN
Purchase Whole Boxed Beef Tenderloin
6# Tenderloin Purchased Cost…$11.50 lb.
Average Purge Loss 2% = 98% Yield
Actual Purchase Cost/lb before cutting: $11.50 ÷ 98% = $11.73 lb.

TRIM DOWN IN-HOUSE INTO A STEAK-READY PRIMAL
$11.73 lb ÷ 63% Average Yield = $18.62 lb.
37% Waste Yields 3.78# Edible Portion

OPTION A: TOTAL EDIBLE PORTION COST
Steak Ready Tenderloin: 3.78# x $18.62/lb = $70.38

OPTION B:  PURCHASE A STEAK-READY PRIMAL CUT
Steak-Ready Beef Tenderloin
3.78# Steak-Ready Tenderloin As Purchased Cost…$18.05 lb.
No Purge Loss
Actual Purchase Cost/lb before cutting Steak-Ready Price…$18.05 lb.
No Waste 100% Yield 3.78# Edible Portion

OPTION B: TOTAL EDIBLE PORTION COST
3.78# x $18.05/lb = $68.23   3% Food Cost Savings versus Option A 

190A tenderloin options This comparative example does not take into account the excess time, labor, and inconsistencies which can incur when you opt to trim whole boxed beef primal cuts in-house which can add to your total costs.  Plug your own tenderloin prices into the formula. The methodology used above for beef tenderloin can also be applied to other cuts of beef, pork, veal and lamb.

Wrap Up

Part of our job at Buedel Fine Meats is helping our customers find the best ways to trim costs and sustain quality. If one of your goals for the new year is to cut costs and drive more profit into your business, find your hidden food costs and free up cash flow by taking a closer look into steak or chop ready primal cuts.

We wish you a very Healthy & Prosperous New Year!

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Food Safety Profile: SQF, Exports, Protocols & Service

By Tim Vlcek

Helping customers in their kitchens.

Over the last ten years, food safety has become a critical part of the food industry. When the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011, it was said to be “the most sweeping reform” of U.S. food safety in 70 years, shifting the focus from reactive to preventive standardization.

Food manufacturers are attached at the hip to the USDA on many levels, dedicated to HACCP processing standards and ever evolving with safety certifications domestically and abroad.

Considering the pinnacle points of food manufacturing are, price, quality and food safety, it’s ironic that food safety is the least talked about – there are no marketing initiatives for food safety.

More ironic is the fact that if you’re not investing in this, your business will suffer. The bigger companies invest deeply in food safety, which is why they get the bigger accounts too.

The FYI on SQF

The SQF (Safe Quality Food) certification is required by every major retailer. It proves your business has met the stringent criteria for safe food production. This is important stuff when you think about the volume of vendors involved in the food supply chain from start to finish.

The certification is performed bySQFlogo independent companies and is not an easy process. It takes 12 to 18 months on average to get approved, and can cost as much as $50,000. The size of your company has no bearing on this process either – Whole Foods wants that SQF regardless.

Buedel Fine Meats just received SQF certification (for which we are very proud) – our journey started last December. The final audit was last week; the process includes a desk audit (on site or remotely performed) and then an on-site examination of your company’s records, protocols, processing, etc. The auditors will physically go through your facility with a fine tooth comb over a grueling two day period. Many companies don’t even try to get SQF certified because the criteria is so tough; getting approved and receiving SQF certification is a big accomplishment.

Global Expansion

When a food company takes that first step into global trade they need to acquire “global certification”. In selling domestically, you know the rules and your customer base inside and out – exporting, however, changes everything.

Benchmarking2Every country you do business with has specific requirements, and once you meet them you will need to evaluate them consistently for changes. Japan, for example, is holding vendors accountable for certain anti- microbial compounds. This list is ever evolving, and it’s up to your business to stay on top of them, and bear any on-site audits conducted by the USDA.

For exporting beef, you will be required to write up a program dedicated for exporting that includes source verification and tracing raw materials. Collaborative efforts by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) have helped pave the way for achieving global standardization.

Our company is currently exporting to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. You can research all companies approved for export on the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) website.

Safety and Service

Food processors and manufacturers are ultimately liable for the products they sell. It is a trickle down affect that commands safety and service be a top priority.

For refrigerated and frozen foods, managing the cold chain is crucial to ensure product integrity and safety. When a customer signs for their invoice, their purchase may have already been temperature checked, “temped”, numerous times – from the production line, to storage, packing, shipping, etc. The customer needs to feel confident that food quality has been maintained at all times.

Getting the highest yield is crucial to efficiency.

It is equally critical for sellers to help their customers handle food correctly – wherever they may fall in the supply chain. We work with our restaurant and hospitality operators consistently to help with shelf life and proper storage.

When we see cold chain management problems at our customers’ locations, often times, it comes down to a question of how and where they are storing their meat. Meat should be stored under 35 degrees, but that’s too cold for dairy and produce; ideally meat should be stored in a separate cooler. If that’s not possible, then meat should be stored near the back of a cooler, to avoid spoilage from the front of the cooler where the door is constantly being opened letting warm air in.

When operators want to do in-house processing, cutting and/or packaging, they also need to become acutely aware of food safety procedures.  An ideal rule to follow is to have a HACCP plan in place. Part of the services we provide include helping our customers with HACCP advice and protocols. It is to our mutual benefit when we are able to review their objectives and actually work with them on their own plans and protocols whenever we can.

Key Takeaways

Get to know your supplier. At Buedel Fine Meats, we visit our suppliers and get to know the person in charge of production and food quality – we are just as much a customer to our suppliers as we are a vendor to our customers. We recommend you talk with your suppliers about their safety protocols and what issues they may or may not be having.

Gather information.  Ask your suppliers for the specifications on their products. For example, what are their tolerances, level of trim, etc.? It’s to your benefit to be as familiar with your suppliers as you can. This is especially noteworthy for operators who do their own in-house meat cutting for safe food handling and yield cost management.  If you’re cutting your own meat in-house, audit yourself – always.  If you see actual yields off from what you expected, you could be losing money on every order. Does something just seem visually off? Take the time to take a second look.

Food safety and service go hand in hand.

We encourage our customers to visit our facility. When we take on new accounts we invite their entire staff to come in and see how their products are received, manufactured and delivered under our GMP’s (Good Manufacturing Practices) and SQF.

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How to Manage Holiday Menu Costs with Boneless Strip Loin

Buedel Fine Meats StriploinPrime Rib and Beef Tenderloin are traditional favorites for carving stations and banquet events during the holidays. Due to the increase in seasonal demand, price spikes often occur, by as much as 30%.

The good news is, there is a premium alternative without a premium price: Boneless Strip Loin.

Anatomically, the Strip Loin muscle is part of the Short Loin. One side of the Short Loin is the Tenderloin; the other side is the Strip Loin, where the ubiquitous New York Strip Steak is fabricated.

The Strip Loin is a muscle that does little work when the animal moves, thus making it relatively tender. It is an extremely versatile cut of beef used for roasts or cut into steaks. Though not as tender as rib eyes or tenderloins, strip loins are very flavorful due to consistent marbling and nice firm textures.

Breaking it Down

Beef Strip LoinLike any cut of meat, there are variations of quality within the Strip Loin muscle. These variations can be left intact or removed depending on your application. An understanding of the anatomy of the Strip Loin can help better balance your food costs to your menu options and guests’ dining experience. The main parts of the Strip Loin are the Rib End or “Center”, the Sirloin End or “Vein End”, the Back Strap and the Tail.

Rib End or Center This is the main part of the Strip Loin. It’s a single muscle that is tender with a firm texture and delicious taste. The quality is determined by the marbling within the muscle as determined by the USDA grades, Prime, Upper Choice, Choice or Select. The higher the grade, the higher the quality, eating experience and price will be.

Sirloin End or Vein End Found on the posterior end of the Strip Loin, this part is commonly called the “vein end” because it is where the sirloin muscle joins together with the strip loin muscle. Between these two muscles is stringy connective tissue called the vein – a huge variation of quality in the Strip Loin. The connective vein is practically inedible and does not break down when cooked. Vein Ends can however, be removed and used for other applications such as, Steak & Eggs, Steak Salad, Chicken Fried Steak and Sandwich Steaks.

Back Strap Also known as, “Strap”, the Back Strap is a 2” thick ligament membrane which runs along the top-back of the Strip Loin. It is edible and can be left on, however, for higher quality steaks and roasts the back strap is often removed for a better eating experience.

TailTail Sometimes referred to as a “Lip”, the Tail is found at the tapered end of the main strip loin muscle. It is comprised of fat and connective tissue.

When purchasing Strip Loins, you’ll typically hear the term, 0x1 or 1×1, which refers to the size of the tail on the strip loin. 1×1 means the tail size is 1″ long all the way across the end of Strip Loin. 0x1 means the tail is 0″ on one end (No Tail) and 1″ in size at the other end of the Strip Loin. As you would expect, 0x0 means there is no tail on the Strip Loin.

Why would/should you care about the size of the tail? The tail is a variation of quality; the less tail, the higher quality and price. The Tail is often the part left on diners’ plates.

Putting it All Together

Striploin DiagramWhen ordering Strip Loin Roasts or Strip Steaks you can specify the trim level you desire for your menu application and quality. More trim, means fewer variations of quality, a better eating experience and higher price whether you’re cutting your own or buying portion control.

Manage your holiday menu costs with these common options for purchasing Strip Loins, Strip Loin Roasts and Strip Steaks:

Boneless Strip Loins, Roasts & Steak Ready

• Boneless Strip Loin 1×1: A whole boneless strip loin with 1″ tail fat across the entire loin.

• Boneless Strip Loin 0x1: A whole boneless strip loin with 1″ tail fat on the Rib End and 0″ tail fat on the Vein end. This is the most common option for whole strip loins.

• Boneless Strip Loin Back Strap Off Steak Ready: A whole boneless strip loin with the back strap ligament removed. Buyers can also specify the tail length desired.

• Boneless Strip Loin Center Cut No Vein Steak Ready: A whole boneless strip loin with the vein end removed. A single muscle cut for roasts or steaks. Buyers can also specify tail length and removal of the back strap.

Boneless Strip Loin Steaks

• Full Cut or End-to-End, MBG#1180: Steaks are cut from the entire strip loin from the rib end to the vein end.

• Center Cut, MBG#1180A: Steaks are cut from only the rib end up to where the vein end appears one only one side of the last steak. In addition to the portion size, buyers can also specify the tail length and back strap on or off with Full and Center cuts.

The Strip Loin roast is a tender cut with a delightful beefy flavor and texture that when properly aged and cooked, will receive rave reviews. Strip Loins provide a great premium alternative for your holiday menus.

New York Strip Roast Recipe

1 (5-6 lb) New York Strip Roast
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Strip RoastPreheat oven to 500ºF. Place roast, fat side up, in roasting pan fitted with rack. Rub roast with olive oil and season all sides with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 12 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 300ºF and continue cooking about 15 to 20 minutes per pound depending on desired doneness: Very Rare 130°, Rare 140°, Medium Rare 145°, Medium 160°, Well 170°.

Loosely tent roast with foil and let stand 15 minutes. Slice roast across the grain. Find more recipes at: http://www.yummly.com/recipes/beef-strip-loin

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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What You Can Do When Tyson, Merck & Chipotle Talk Higher Prices

CreekstoneBeeffiletAmericans eat more beef, about 54 lbs per capita, than we eat of pork, veal and lamb combined. Three major announcements in the past week seem to portend higher beef prices down the road.

We have some suggestions for chefs and restaurateurs on how they can control their food costs and better protect their profits.

First, the Headlines…

Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN), which provides 26% of the U.S. beef supply, notified cattle feeders that as of September 6th, the company would no longer purchase animals that had been given Zilmax (zilpaterol) a drug added to feed which accelerates weight gain by as much as 30 pounds just before slaughter. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/09/us-livestock-tyson-idUSBRE97805G20130809

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) is considering bending its rules on serving only “naturally raised” beef amid a supply shortage of beef raised without antibiotics. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-14/there-arent-enough-antibiotic-free-cows-for-chipotle

Merck & Co.’s (MRK) animal health division said Friday it would temporarily suspend sales of its widely used feed additive Zilmax in the U.S. and Canada following Tyson’s announcement to no longer purchase cattle that have been given Zilmax. http://www.nasdaq.com/article/merck-suspends-sales-of-cattle-supplement-zilmax-in-us-canada-20130816-00280#ixzz2cEZqJmwO

How does this all mesh together?

There’s an interesting dichotomy between the needs to meet consumer beef demand, the growing demand for naturally raised beef, and the need for beef suppliers and retailers to make profits.      

U.S. cattle numbers have dropped to their lowest level since 1973 on the heels of a record-setting drought that decimated feed supplies and forced producers to cull animals.Beef production in the U.S. will decline 4.9 percent in 2014, retreating for a fourth consecutive year according to the USDA. Yet we are producing more edible beef today than sixty years ago in part because of the use of beta agonists like Merk’s Zilmax.That is helping to keep beef prices in check, albeit with lower quality beef because of the drug.  

Suzanne Collett, owner at Fortune Cattle Company, says, “Meat quality is important but losing 15 to 30 pounds off of a Fed Steer makes a huge impact on the supply. If this product (Zilmax) and competitor (Optaflexx), are completely taken off the market this would effectively take away about 5.7 million (and more) peoples’ ability to consume beef at 54 pounds each per year…that’s more than the entire city of Chicago’s population. If all packers follow suit…the impact is much greater. Isn’t it amazing what one product can do…diminish meat quality but feed so many people?”

All Natural beef already commands higher prices than commodity beef. Naturally raised cattle cost more to produce, and they take longer to reach the desired harvest weight. Consequently, few beef suppliers are willing (or able) to sustain on natural beef alone. Hence one of the reasons that Chipolte is  considering bending its rules on serving only “naturally raised” beef amid a supply shortage. With 900 restaurants and growing, Chipoltle’s demand for beef will continue to grow.

If all beta agonists are taken off the market, we’ll have less beef or longer time on feed to get cattle to harvest weight. Both outcomes mean higher commodity beef prices down the road if demand remains the same.

What You Can Do About It

Buedel consistently helps chefs and restaurateurs drive profits in their business with tailored fine meat programs. Here are three suggestions we have to help you preserve profits and control food costs in the face of rising prices.

Use Menu Profit Lock-Ins vs. Weekly Price Shopping Many people we talk with run their businesses by shopping for the lowest price of the week. They assemble the weekly price sheets from vendors, put them all in a spreadsheet and compare prices by item by vendor. Then they buy the lowest priced items from multiple suppliers to control their food costs. While this may ensure you get the lowest price for the week, you will still be subject to the weekly movement of commodity pricing.

Our suggestion is to lock-in menu item profits for blocks of time versus weekly price shopping. To do this, you need to determine your minimum acceptable food cost for the menu price of an item and then work with your purveyor to lock-in a price for a specified block of time. Then you can forget about the weekly price movement because you have your desired profits locked in place.

Doing this may require that you pay more than the current market price for the item at the start, but ensures you won’t pay more when prices rise above the lock. If the prices fall below your price lock point, you still make your desired menu profit. Use your purveyor’s knowledge of the market to your advantage and partner with them to develop a win/win program. 

Embrace the Power of Portion Control Last year I wrote a blog entitled, Should I cut my own steaks or buy pre-cut portion control steaks? which talked about the hidden costs many operators miss when cutting their own steaks or chops. If you’re serving steaks or chops on your menu and cutting them in your kitchen, you’re probably letting profits slip away with unaccounted for costs. 

There are many portion control, or “steak ready” cuts that eliminate the hidden costs of waste and labor. We help our customers quantify their yielded costs of finished goods, and then compare that measure to their desired target profits. Take an educated look at portion control.

Use Small Reductions in Portion Sizes When prices are on the rise a small reduction in portion size can mean large cost savings and higher profits. For example, let’s say you sell a tenderloin filet on the menu for $20.00. Just a small change from an 8 oz portion to a 7 oz portion at a cost of $10/lb increases your menu item profit by 4%! (Of course, we recommend this only when weight is not noted on the menu.) That small 1 oz portion change will be virtually undetectable in size and shape of the filet.

When all three of these suggestions are combined, you will have a strategic and powerful set of tools to put your operation in the best position against higher prices. If you’d like to hear more ideas, contact us: info@buedelfoods.com.

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

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