Beef will increasingly command a premium on menus as a global shortage is driving up prices, warns buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.
Along with the prime cuts needed for steaks and Sunday roasts, the impact of higher beef prices is also affecting the offcuts and trim used in menu mainstays such as pies and burgers.
With fewer cattle coming to market in the UK and globally, Lynx expects beef to buck the general downward trend in inflation this year and into 2016.
Lynx managing director John Pinder said: “As often happens, caterers are getting the blunt end of the price pressure that major supermarkets put on suppliers, which is an international issue and not simply confined to the UK market.
“The normal effect of rising demand is for supply to increase to meet it, but in the face of retailers’ continued insistence that suppliers maintain low prices, there’s little incentive for farmers to increase beef production.
“While customers eating out expect beef to occupy a premium slot at the top of the menu pyramid, there can’t be too big a jump between the mid-price and premium dishes on offer.
“We’re recommending to our customers that they look at alternatives to beef to deliver the all-important ‘wow factor’ at prices that don’t deter their customers.”
The issue is spotlighted in the newly-published spring 2015 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast which also notes that lamb prices are at a seasonal high.
Its recommendations for main courses on spring menus include pork which has increased supply despite higher demand due to the popularity of barbecue dishes and the Russian ban on EU pig imports.
The Market Forecast also predicts that flat fish including brill and Dover sole, along with lobster and crab from British waters, will be good value over the coming months.
Pinder added: “Generally the weather had been kind both in the UK and further afield, and fresh, seasonal produce is in good supply.
“There are always exceptions, of course, and recent media reports on the low prices being paid to dairy farmers hides the fact that demand for free-range dairy has soared, pushing up prices at the top end of the market.”
The Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast combines official inflation data with exclusive insight from across the range of suppliers Lynx works with. A free copy of the spring 2015 edition can be downloaded here.
Lynx Purchasing works with more than 2,200 businesses including hotels, pubs, bars, restaurants, healthcare and education providers, offering access to the best prices in the market, with no fees or contracts.