Find the gap! Focus on Foodservice report identifies menu opportunites

14 September 2015

Find the gap! Focus on Foodservice report identifies menu opportunitesWhile it may seem that diners want it all, AHDB Beef & Lamb has highlighted key areas in which foodservice suppliers and operators can maximise footfall and profit. The latest ‘Focus on Foodservice’ report brings industry trends, consumer demands and worldwide menu research, which foodservice businesses cannot afford to ignore.

Hugh Judd, foodservice project manager for AHDB Beef & Lamb, said: "While the prospects for the foodservice sector are positive, with total visits and spend on the increase, growth has been patchy and the competitive nature of the market demands constant innovation. We’ve looked at recent customer research and dining trends in order to help identify key opportunities for those operating in the sector.

"What is clear is that customers are increasingly demanding – and rightly so. After all, there is more choice when eating out than ever before, not just in terms of outlet but also cuisine, flavours and style. Along with variety, today’s diners want good, quality, fresh and wholesome food they can trust, as well as value for money; giving them a clear reason to return time and again.”

When it comes to beef and lamb, the report identifies new cuts, cooking methods and accompaniments as effective ways to meet customer expectations and deliver enhanced profit opportunities.

Exploiting seasonality is key and lamb is at its best right now. With competitive prices, good supply and research showing that consumer’s rate the taste of lamb, there is a gap waiting to be filled.

Hugh said: "Lamb outperforms all other meats when it comes to taste and is the single most important reason customers choose it. Yet our research shows that lamb is available on only about 15% of all menus in licensed premises in England. There is huge potential for lamb right now and it’s never been better value for money, meaning caterers can afford to be adventurous. In recent testing, Cannon of Lamb and Lamb Rack were voted as having the ‘wow’ factor with consumers and make a tempting change from more traditional cuts such as chops and shank.”

Premium burger growth is showing no signs of slowing. Indeed, customers continue to switch to more gourmet offerings with thicker meats, a greater selection of toppings and premium breads. Chefs innovating with premium quality ‘posh’ burgers stand to benefit, as do those offering bite-sized options as a way of abating customer concerns about health after two in five say they would rather eat a smaller portion of their favourite meal opposed to a reduced calorie version.

Thin beef cuts are in as steak sandwiches continue to evolve. By using cuts more traditionally associated with slower cooking methods means there is real profit potential to be had. The new range of Thin Cut steaks from AHDB Beef & Lamb have been created using alternative butchery methods to deliver great carcase value and cut consistency. Hugh said: "They’re quick, convenient and versatile too. As well as sandwiches and wraps, these steaks are ideal for stir-fries, pasta and Mexican style dishes and with the use of different sauces and accompaniments, will add a point of difference to menus.”

Going global… Street food and international flavours have become the norm. That said, there is still potential to drive greater menu appeal with worldwide influences, be it Venezuelan shredded beef, Japanese Teriyaki short ribs or Scandinavian inspired smoked lamb with fennel.

Provenance adds appeal for diners and is an opportunity for caterers to demonstrate their sourcing policy, and along with well-written menu descriptions, enhance prices and take a quality positioning.

Hugh said: "Quality and value are always going to be watchwords of the sector. But the real winners will be those that combine this with dish innovation from new cuts and global influences, and make a feature of it on menus. As our report clearly shows, tapping into these trends will make a real difference to bottom lines.”

Click here to read the latest Focus on Foodservice report.

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