Restaurant Operators Recognize the Importance of Menuing Beef

Hillary Makens | March 15, 2018

Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. releases results of the 2017 Beef Foodservice Volumetric Study, which sizes industry-wide animal protein purchases.

Tastes change and food trends come and go, but through it all, beef remains an enduring favorite and a menu anchor. The 2017 Beef Foodservice Volumetric Study found that 97 percent of foodservice operators are serving beef, with ground beef being the most popular followed by steaks and roasts.1

Since 2003, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association on behalf of the Beef Checkoff, has engaged Technomic annually to study how beef is being purchased by the foodservice industry. The 2017 study revealed that beef had the highest gain in volume of all proteins, up a total of 221 million pounds1. Additionally, the 2017 study showed an increase of nearly 10 percent from 2015 of operators purchasing roasts for their restaurants1. The significant increase in popularity points to a growing supply of beef in response to strong consumer demand, as well as the growing trend of in-house fabrication. The ability to cut steaks in house is a significant asset for foodservice operators as 45 percent indicated that featuring steak on the menu increases traffic.1  

A recent article in FOOD&WINE takes a closer look at the trend and identifies various restaurants where chefs have taken on the role as butcher.

“In-house fabrication allows the operator to explore new cutting techniques to offer guests a unique beef eating experience. All in all, it’s a win-win for the operator and their customers,” said Chef Dave Zino, chef at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff.

While roasts have seen a more notable increase in popularity, sales of all beef cuts continue to do well across the foodservice industry, with beef volume overall increasing by 221 million pounds from 2016 to 20171. This is a trend that should continue into 2018 as indicated by the beef supply forecast from USDA stating that consumers are projected to eat 9.6 percent more beef in 2018 than in 2015.2

Additional Key Takeaways from the Study:

  • Beef had the highest gain in volume of all proteins and represents 51 percent of all animal protein growth in 20171
  • Beef volume has increased for the second year in a row1
  • Beef volume is up a total of 221 million pounds, or 2.8 percent1
  • There is a rebound in premium cuts of beef in both pre-cut steaks and roasts1
  • 45 percent of operators say that having Steak on the menu increases traffic, which is the highest number in 5 years1
  1. Source 1  2017 Usage and Volumetric Assessment of Beef in Foodservice Study
  2. USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, March 8, 2018. 

About the Beef Checkoff
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.

About NCBA, a Contractor to the Beef Checkoff
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The Beef Checkoff Program is administered by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, with oversight provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.