Economy affecting consumer meat menu selections

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — Two new reports by Technomic, Inc. outline how the economic downturn is affecting consumer entree choices at restaurants. Many consumers, for example, are bypassing beef for less expensive meats such as chicken and turkey. In addition, when ordering beef, consumers expect better cuts, aging and seasonings to justify paying a higher cost, said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of Technomic.

The two reports, which are part of Technomic’s Center of the Plate series and titled the "Poultry Consumer Trend Report" and "Beef & Pork Consumer Trend Report," also noted that more than three out of five consumers think turkey and chicken are healthier than beef or pork. Among full-service and independent restaurants, the top three beef preparation methods were cut, as in hand-cut or center-cut, grilled and aged. The research service noted that the three terms were often used together to describe specific beef entrees.

With regard to poultry, Technomic found that even though consumers say they would like to order more ethnic and regional chicken dishes, restaurants have not yet met the growing demand. While restaurant operators have expended their offerings of ethnic-inspired poultry-based dishes, Technomic’s menu analysis showed there is more room for growth.

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