How to beef up your menu

How to beef up your menu
04/05/2017 - 11:45
Hugh Judd, senior foodservice project manager at AHDB Beef & Lamb, shares his views on how foodservice operators can beef up their menus to tap into new and emerging profit opportunities

The foodservice sector is a picture of good health. In the first half of 2016, customer visits are up 1.5% over the previous 12 months, standing at 11.3 billion a year; total spend is up 3.2% making the foodservice sector worth £53 billion; and average customer spend is rising too, by 1.7% (NPD Crest, August 2016).

The outlook looks positive, yet we’re still 500 million customer visits short of the pre-recession peak, before the 2008 crash. This means the need to differentiate is greater than ever. For businesses with a cutting edge offer, the opportunities to grow are apparent in most sectors – QSR is up 2.3% year-on-year; full service up 2.1%; travel and leisure by 1.9% and pubs are showing 1.2% growth. In addition, all the major day parts are showing positive signs – breakfast, lunch and dinner occasions are all up and only snacking is down, albeit marginally (ibid).

Alongside the growth opportunities in foodservice, operators must also heed the changes to consumer lifestyles and demographics. So called millennials are a key consumer to engage with, as many are now entering the workforce and are beginning to spend. They have, of course, grown up with the internet and are technologically savvy. They are trend setters rather than followers, so are looking for new experiences and great quality when eating out of home.

Diners are now seeking personalisation when they eat out – they want it their way and they’re happy to experiment.  This presents a great opportunity to introduce a ‘Try & Share’ element to menus, or smaller and bite size portions.  Small plates and sharing platters are important components of any menu, and offering the right products at the right price can tempt customers to spend that little bit extra. Small plates are becoming increasingly popular in the food-to-go/QSR industry, as consumers embrace options that are often healthier, more affordable and give them the chance to experiment with new flavours.

To ensure foodservice operators make the most of this trend with their meat offerings, AHDB Beef & Lamb suggest listing a beef or lamb mini joint. These smaller roasting joints are enjoying greater appeal as they allow diners to share a variety of beef and lamb dishes, and lend themselves to unique flavour profiles. They are also popular with chefs as they not only offer portion control and value for money but also convenience. Traditional sit-down meal times are slowly  retreating in favour of more casual all-day dining, which means small plates or sharing platters are key for maximising profit opportunities  – they’re functional, perfect for large groups and add theatre to casual dining.

We’ve developed a folder, designed for foodservice operators, featuring a range of mini joints that we think offer ideal menu solutions, including an insert on each mini joint in our range and the 3-in-1 menu solutions for each cut that will benefit your business.

Whilst sharing platters are the perfect solution for diners looking for an experiential out of home meal, foodservice operators must also recognise the success of steadfast and well-loved dishes, like the burger.

The Better Burger category is not only driving up quality, it’s also leading the way in bringing global cuisines to the ubiquitous bun – and satisfying the consumer’s desire to experience an array of flavours from around the world. AHDB Beef & Lamb’s recent Focus on Foodservice report shows how menu descriptions for burgers has become an art form, with such titles as Smokey and the Bandit, Raging Bull, The Alamo, River Phoenix and Bollywood. These innovative and light hearted descriptors are a great communication tool for foodservice outlets to differentiate their burger offerings, whilst playing up unique flavour profiles.

And it isn’t just about the label. At AHDB Beef & Lamb we created the Gourmet Burger range of cut-specific burgers after our in-depth research showed that mincing trim from the rump, chuck or brisket can significantly improve margin potential, as well as creating appealing taste and texture profiles.

We’re advising foodservice operators to list Premium Rump Steak Burger, Premium Chuck Burger and Premium Brisket Burger lines to add interest to menus and enhance profit opportunities. Further information about our Gourmet Burger range can be found at

And to support our cut-specific Gourmet Burger range we’ve produced ‘It’s all about Flavour’, a publication which takes a detailed look at the premium burger market, examining the history of the burger and explaining how it has repositioned itself as a premium menu option in the foodservice sector. You can view it on-line at

For more information about how to explore profit opportunities for beef and lamb within the foodservice sector, visit or email

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