Add Premium Ingredients to the Menu and Watch Your Profit Potential Soar


Did you know adding premium, top-quality ingredients—including those that are organic and antibiotic free—can translate to an opportunity for increased profits? When it comes to the quality of ingredients, you build trust through transparency, especially as consumers continue to value honesty, wholesome food and innovative applications. A recent study revealed 90% of consumers believe that restaurants should offer guests the option to choose organic.1 While purchasing organic food may cost you more upfront, most consumers are willing to pay more at restaurants that serve organic and locally grown food.2

Need more convincing? Here are four incentives to source premium ingredients and tips to translate the upfront cost into profit.

  1. Consumers Crave Quality Ingredients

Consumer demand continues to grow for high-quality menu items. Eighty-four percent of consumers seek more natural, less processed foods, and 59% agree foods with fewer ingredients are healthier.3

“Organic” is not just a buzzword, it is a standard of food quality consumers value. The Hartman Group, a food and beverage research firm, found that consumers are comfortable being charged more for organic food, especially when it comes to vegetables, fruit and poultry.4

In fact, consumers are asking for organic chicken and 80% would pay more for chicken that is USDA certified organic.1 You could charge $2.50 more per 4-oz. portion of organic chicken, resulting in an extra $1.50 in profit per plate.1

  1. From QSR to Fast Casual, Everyone’s Cleaning Up

Some of the biggest operators in QSR and fast casual are capitalizing on the profit power of premium ingredients. At Wendy’s, premium menu items, including a fresh mozzarella chicken salad and a strawberry mango chicken salad, contributed to higher sales in the recent quarter.5

“From Panera to Chipotle, many fast casuals are competing to have the cleanest labels, freshest ingredients and most ethical business models,” says Elizabeth Friend, strategy analyst at Euromonitor International.6

Despite the cost, high-quality ingredients can make economic sense for less expensive concepts, such as fast casual restaurants where dishes are made to order as customers move through the line.

While definitions of health and wellness may be a little fuzzy, 89% percent of operators acknowledge that it’s a leading trend. Eight of ten operators report that clean labels will influence future purchase decisions, motivating them to buy more locally produced foods that are chemical or pesticide free, produced under sustainable conditions, free of hormones and antibiotics, and the product of humane animal treatment.7

  1. Promote Premium

Be sure to call out the quality of ingredients, since many consumers respond favorably to premium descriptors like organic chicken and turkey with No Antibiotics Ever. While the terms “natural” and “organic” are still the most common premium menu descriptors, clean menu claims related to animal products, such as “humanely raised” and “no steroids,” were the fastest-growing terms between 2015 and 2017.7

More than 70% of operators say that featuring organic chicken on their menu improves the perception of their restaurant.1 This is supported by research claiming that 86% of consumers would return to a restaurant they previously avoided if they switched to serving organic chicken.1

  1. Versatility Means Profitability

Managing food costs can put ingredient prices and flavor at odds, but better ingredients can mean better business. Premium ingredients add more versatility to the menu and allow for a “less is more” approach that helps control costs.

Operators seeking cost-effective strategies to menu the premium proteins patrons desire, like No Antibiotics Ever and organic proteins, need not overhaul the menu or transition all products to organic. Adding a special menu or offering an LTO that highlights organic ingredients is a way to meet customer demand and charge more per plate.

The transition to premium ingredients will continue to impact the foodservice industry and how consumers dine away from home. With the growing demand for natural, less processed foods, you have the opportunity to boost your business by revamping menus to reflect these higher standards. It’s time to take advantage of the shifting landscape and look for suppliers who meet strict animal welfare criteria and offer premium ingredients like organic and No Antibiotics Ever products.

Content courtesy of Perdue Foodservice

1Perdue proprietary internal consumer study, June 2017

2Chait, Jennifer, Reasons for Restaurants to Go Organic, The Balance, Apr. 8, 2018

3Schouten, Rebekah, “State of the Industry: Foodservice,” Food Business News, Dec. 4, 2017

4Kincaid, Erika, Hunger for organic food continues to grow, Food Dive, Aug. 1, 2017

5Watrous, Monica, “Premium Propelling Wendy’s,” Food Business News, Aug. 10, 2017

6Szalay, Jessie, “With Transparency, Perception is Everything,” QSR, April 2017

7Global Food Forums, Consumer Restaurant & Menu Trends: The Clean Label Influence, Jan. 25, 2018