Price warning over changing menu trends

The boom in popularity of dishes such as pulled pork is moving the goalposts for operators when it comes to effective menu planning, a new report is warning.

Catering equipment companies that want to tip off their clients about the latest foodservice trends can point to the latest findings by buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.

It insists the growing consumer appetite for US-style hot dogs and BBQ dishes such as ribs and pulled pork has largely flattened out the seasonal peaks and troughs that used to be seen in pork prices.

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“We’re definitely now seeing what you might call the ‘pork belly effect’ extend to other cuts,” says Lynx managing director John Pinder. “Where pork belly was once a very cost effective option for dishes such as stews and pies, once gastropubs, and then national pub and restaurant groups, moved it centre-plate the price inevitably increased.

“We’re now seeing a similar effect on pork shoulder, which is an ideal cut for slow cooking. With pulled pork now appearing not simply on the menu in specialist BBQ restaurants, but in many mainstream restaurants and pubs, demand for pork shoulder is high all year around.”

Lynx’s Autumn/Winter 2014 Purchasing Market Forecast concludes that pork still represents very good value for caterers, but the reality is that the price is going to remain at a steady level all year round rather than see the seasonal variations that clever operators have been able to take advantage of in the past.

“The one exception, inevitably, is demand for streaky bacon in the run-up to Christmas, which as ever is going to push up the price as we get closer to December,” said Pinder.

The Market Forecast also sounds a warning note on turkey prices, which took a seasonal upturn earlier than expected at the start of September.

“Most suppliers won’t have their birds fully ready for market for a few more weeks, so the picture on turkey prices won’t be totally clear until mid-November, although we’re already negotiating prices for some of our customers who are placing large orders for their Christmas menus.”

Pinder also added that the Russian ban on imports of food and drink products from the UK will also potentially benefit operators.

“We’re talking to some of our specialist suppliers, and there are likely to be some bargains on offer on products such as smoked salmon and premium cheeses such as cheddar and stilton, that were previously earmarked for the oligarchs,” he said.

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