How to Navigate Rising Meat Costs

The cost of beef is on the rise.  The federal government reported that beef prices climbed 19 percent in January 2015. Unfortunately, rising costs continued in 2015, making budgets tighter for all foodservice operations, including supermarket delis, restaurants, hotels, schools, and health care facilities with the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service predicting costs would rise another five to six percent in 2015.

While beef cost increases have stabilized in 2016, the cost still remains significantly higher than just a few years ago, adding additional pressure to tight foodservice budgets.

For those who work in the foodservice industry, this is not a new trend. However, the impact of it can be felt far and wide.

Cost of Business

Simply put, rising product costs affect your bottom line. As operators, you have two choices:

  1. Pass the increase along to the customer

  2. Absorb the cost and find alternative ways to stabilize and/or increase profits

This price increase impacts all foodservice operators. Recently, Chipotle, the fast-casual burrito giant, decided to take the first route. Citing “continually rising beef prices,” the restaurant chain announced plans to raise prices by four to six percent on all steak and barbacoa burritos, bowls, tacos and salads

Although the price increases are likely not to impact the large chain too much, many operators are often less inclined to pass the added cost along to customers. These operators therefore seek out alternatives.


Outside of no longer using a product, which is not often an option, one way to help lessen the blow of rising cost of beef is to get the most out of a single cut of meat.

Equipment and preparation play a large role in the outcome and yield of the final product. One man who believes this whole-heartily is restaurateur Charlie Roesch, better known to his fans as “Charlie the Butcher”.

His Buffalo, N.Y.-based operation, which includes six restaurants, a catering option and wholesale of slow-roasted meats daily to 75 grocery locations, is known for its signature “Beef on Weck” sandwiches.

Compared to three years ago, Charlie has seen a 30 percent price increase in the beef he uses. Therefore, he relies on efficient cooking equipment, like Cook & Hold ovens, to maximize output.

  • Calculate your return on investment with a Cook & Hold oven by filling out the form on this page.

Utilizing slow, steady heat, Cook & Hold oven technology tenderizes meat by activating its natural enzymes, thus rendering even tougher cuts of meat fork-tender.

“These ovens give more servings per roast,” said Roesch. “If I put a $100 piece of rib-eye into a traditional oven, I might get, say, 14 servings out of it. By contrast, the same piece of meat prepared in a Cook & Hold oven will yield 18 servings. I can buy less meat and serve the same amount of people.”

In addition to the higher yield, Roesch shared that ovens, like the Cook & Hold, help him to save on overall operating costs due the fact that they can operate without the need for a hood. Also the ovens can be set to automatically switch from the cook to hold cycle, allowing items to prep overnight, freeing up the staff’s time to focus on other kitchen tasks.

Lessening the Impact

Although the foodservice industry cannot control the rising cost of beef, it can determine the preparation techniques and equipment used in order to produce higher yields. Smart cuts paired with reliable equipment that feature advanced technology will significantly help cut costs – saving both you and your customer money.

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