If you bought a pair of jeans without specifying the waist and leg size, you really wouldn’t be able to complain too much if the fit wasn’t quite what you were hoping for. So it’s a source of some concern that caterers across the board, from hotels to care homes, routinely order produce without providing their catering suppliers with the basic information they need to do the job.
For example, if you want to serve baked potatoes, you need large and potatoes of a fairly uniform size; for chips or mash you can use spuds of varying sizes and might get a better price. While overall food inflation has moderated from the peaks seen last year, that really only means that prices aren’t rising quite as fast. The choice for caterers is to simply watch as their costs increase, or to work more closely with their suppliers to get the best possible value. The key to that is understanding exactly what you’re buying.
By developing tighter purchasing disciplines and improving their understanding of the yields generated from fresh meat and fish, operators can maintain margins and GP. However, if the chef doesn’t know how many portions he can expect to serve from a kilo of cod, or whether the quoted weight of a leg of lamb includes the bone, then the business has very little chance of setting its menu prices at a level which will keep it trading profitably.
At Lynx, work with suppliers who will go the extra mile to ensure that customers get the best value, our experience is often that, as well as not understanding the benefits of ordering in season, when produce is at its best in terms of quality and value for money, many caterers don’t have a grasp of what yield to expect. This is true in particular when ordering meat and fish by weight.
Steak is a good example. A whole striploin might look better value than pre-portioned standard trimmed steaks, but the fat and gristle will need to trimmed, This will reduce the yield by up to 20% of the total weight, and each steak will need to be cut to weight for accurate portioning.
Unless a caterer is confident that they have the butchery skills in-house, we advise customers to order steaks individually rather than by weight – for example, 20 standard trim sirloin steaks, each 8oz in weight. Then, if the weight of an individual steak is over, it’s the butcher who bears the cost rather than the caterer. We also advise that meat is always weighed at the time of delivery to check it against what was ordered.
With fish, from 20% up to 60% or more can be lost when filleting, depending on the species, so the yield will be considerably lower than the weight of the fish. Again, it may make more sense to pay a premium for fillets, and know that all the fish being purchased can be sold to customers.
At its simplest, the more accurately you can specify, the better value you’ll get. If a supplier has try and second guess the order, there is far more potential for misunderstanding. Asking a supplier for advice and information isn’t a sign of weakness, it can often be the secret of a successful menu.
Yield guide- what to expect:
- Cod, haddock and plaice fillets: 8 portions per kg
- Plaice, turbot and brill on the bone: 4 portions per kg
- Salmon (gutted but including head and tail): 6 portions per kg
- Topside beef joint: 6 to 8 portions per kg
- Diced beef: 8 to 10 portions per kg
- Boneless leg of lamb: 6 to 8 portions per kg
- Boneless loin of pork: 8 portions per kg
Please note these are guideline portions only, and yield will depend on the cut and quality