Monthly, I am fortunate to get a newsletter called C a r i b b e a n C u l i n a r y B i t e s from the U.S. Meat Export Federation. In keeping up with current preferences and trends, I’ll be including some of what they pass on, when I think it is of interest.

Let me know if you think the Bachelor Salad will work???

Head-turning Salads are big hit on menus.  Here are some ideas:

· At San Francisco-based Mixt Greens (8 locations), the  Bachelor  Salad features warm grilled Prime flat-iron steak, warm herb-roasted potatoes, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, topped with caramelized onions.  It was designed to win over men and get them to start eating salads.

· At Sonny’s Bar-B-Q in Florida, guests can order any of the barbecue meats over any salad.

· At Madeleine Country French Café in Dallas, the Citrus Bacon Salade includes field greens topped with sliced strawberries, bacon, mandarin oranges, pineapple, roasted almonds and a balsamic vinaigrette with a lemon Madeleine for $7.99.

Three beef cuts win American Heart Association “heart-check mark” certification

The American Heart Association has bestowed its most familiar certification mark – the ―heart-check‖ – on 3 cuts of beef all from the center cut, top sirloin butt (USDA Select) that can be merchandised  as top sirloin petite roast (the ―baseball‖ roast), top sirloin filet (―baseball‖ steak) and top sirloin kabob.  With more than 83% of consumers who have an awareness of the heart-check mark and nearly 75% of primary grocery shoppers saying the mark improves the likelihood that they will buy a product, retailers who are signed up to participate in the AHA’s national Food Certification Program are very likely to promote these items.

However, there are 29 beef cuts that meet the US government guidelines for ―lean‖ labeling and a new brochure, Twentynine Ways to Love Lean Beef, is available to promote those cuts (in order from leanest):  eye round roast and steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast and steak, bottom round roast and steak, top sirloin steak, brisket flat half, 95% lean ground beef, round tip roast and steak, round steak, shank cross cuts, chuck shoulder pot roast, sirloin tip center roast and steak, chuck shoulder steak, bottom round (Western Griller) steak, strip steak, shoulder petite tender and medallions, flank steak, shoulder center (Ranch) steak, tri-tip roast and steak, tenderloin roast and steak, and T-bone steak.

A foodservice segment that’s actually benefiting from the recession

The fast-casual chain segment has actually benefited from consumers trading down from full-service restaurants, according to a new study by Technomic.  Other notable findings:

· Panera Bread/Saint Louis Bread Co. and Chipotle were the leaders of the fast-casual subsegment overall.

· The fastest-growing menu categories were hamburger (up 17%), Asian/noodle (up 6%), and Mexican (up 6%).

· Bakery café/bagel remained the largest of all fast-casual clusters with Mexican next in line.

Beef, pork descriptors impact taste expectations:  Technomic report Meat Descriptions

2/3rds of consumers think meat described on a label or menu with terms like ―grass-fed,‖ lean,‖ ―organic‖ or ―natural‖ will taste better; consumers also perceive lean and extra lean cuts as tastier and healthier options; and when it comes to proteins on restaurant menus, consumers said they’d order pork more often if there was more variety in the dishes offered.

You can discover more about the U.S. Meat Export Federation at http://www.usmef.org/