Sponsored by TNT Burgers
Foodservice operators are emerging from the pandemic with fewer workers and higher food prices. To overcome the challenges of labor shortages, supply chain constraints, and inflation, many establishments are exploring ingredients that streamline kitchen operations, save money, and please customers. Frozen burger patties are emerging as one solution.
According to the Datassential report, One Table: The State of the Operator and the Road Ahead 2022, operators are planning to implement several strategies to help them thrive in the current environment. Many are looking at purchasing different products from their existing or new suppliers. As they revamp their shopping lists, 57% of operators said that labor-saving products are appealing right now, and 34% of operators pointed to portion control as particularly appealing.
Frozen to the rescue
To ease the problems associated with having less available culinary talent, 17% of operators said they plan to transition to more pre-made products, and 15% said they have shifted more toward frozen products. The trend is one that will last, as 33% of operators said frozen products are more appealing these days, as they are versatile, long-lasting, and convenient.
Suppliers have developed innovative frozen products that solve operational issues and satisfy consumer demand for delicious menu items. Technology plays a role, and some suppliers are using Individual Quick Frozen (IQF), a process that entails freezing individual portions of food, as opposed to freezing bulk product. The portions are frozen quickly, using CO2 or liquid nitrogen to maintain the quality of the food, without using preservatives.
Lowering food and labor costs
IQF helps operators manage inventory levels and saves on prep time and labor. For example, with beef burgers, instead of having kitchen staff weigh and shape each patty, they can simply use IQF patties that provide a consistent experience.
Of course, the burgers must also have other favorable features. According to a November 2021 survey by TNT™ Burgers (Tasty N’ Tender), Cargill’s premium burger line, operators ranked the following qualities of a burger as extremely important or very important: taste, texture, quality, and juiciness. Also according to the survey, 94% of foodservice operators say consistent quality is extremely important or very important, and 80% of operators say the taste experience is critical in burgers.
Burgers are a perennial favorite among consumers dining out because they are versatile and can be customized countless ways with toppings and buns. Beef is also maintaining its popularity. The Power of Meat, a report released in May by FMI and The Meat Institute, noted that the population’s share of meat eaters remains high. Meat eaters make up 74% of consumers compared with 71% in 2021. Flexitarians make up 16% and vegans/vegetarians remain at 6%. Also, 73% of consumers agree that meat belongs in a healthy, balanced lifestyle, but even so, 37% try to eat a little less of it.
If consumers are trying to eat less meat, they will seek high-quality menu items when they do. More research from Cargill indicates that frozen patties delivered a better sensory experience versus fresh. In the Cargill Internal Sensory Panel of 112 consumers, frozen patties were preferred 2:1 over fresh.
Frozen patties, hot sales
Among the many innovative products from Cargill is TNT Burger. The TNT premium patty was developed for foodservice operators looking for a low maintenance, high-performance burger. The patties can be cooked from frozen, so there is no waiting to thaw. They have exceptional tenderness and a three-hour-plus hold time, which can help increase efficiencies and protect profits. There is also less food waste, as frozen burger patties have a longer shelf life than fresh, and there are fewer throwaways.
TNT Burgers are available in a variety of grinds, sizes, and shapes. The pre-made and frozen attributes help operators save labor costs and prep time, and the premium qualities help the operators command higher menu prices. Consumers are willing to pay higher prices when they dine out, as inflation has made restaurant prices increase at a lower rate than grocery prices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the 12 months ended July, the cost of food at home increased 13.1%, while food away from home increased only 7.6%.
Operators are challenged during this current inflationary and low unemployment environment, so they turn to their suppliers for products that can help them control costs, and generate sales. IQF patties are one solution, and TNT Burgers provide a consistent experience with the great taste and juicy texture consumers crave in a burger. For more information, visit https://tntburgers.com.