Introduction

Foodservice professionals throughout the United States are offering turkey as a year- round menu item. Statistics show a 13 percent increase in foodservice usage of turkey in the past two years. Value-added cuts make turkey a great option for fine and mid-scale dining segments, quick-service, catering, home-meal replacement, health care, educational and industry dining operations. Chefs in fine dining establishments are offering turkey as a signature menu item throughout each season. Adding turkey to your menu provides your guests with new food choices that can expand your menu.

Turkey consumption mirrors the continuing trend toward lean and healthy foods and expanded ethnic fare. In a recent survey, 76 percent of consumers said they would order turkey when eating out if it were offered on the menu. The majority of consumers said they would like to try a wider selection of turkey entrees because they enjoy the flavors of turkey and feel turkey is a healthy food. Turkey is easy to use in a wide range of ethnic presentations and can readily enhance any menu.

Good value yields a great food cost

Turkey is a good value because it offers a profitable, high margin with low operational costs. Turkey costs less per pound than most other animal protein foods and turkey signature menu offerings also yield a better food cost percentage than most other protein foods. The value-added cuts make turkey presentations less labor intensive, simpler and more economical to prepare and serve, as well as ensure portion control and minimize waste. Chefs can realize a better food cost percentage when using turkey cutlets in place of more expensive beef and veal cuts.

Noted chefs praise the value of turkey:

  • Chef Michael Foley of Chicago, "Every single part of the bird, from the neck down can be used. This makes our food costs drop because we prepare a variety of dishes including salad, saute of turkey breast and braised legs. Turkey has very little waste because the carcass can produce a soup, chowder or rich stock."
  • Chef Bill Jackson of Washington, DC, "It's not easy to put an eight-ounce serving of protein on a plate and keep the menu price in the single digits for the lunch menu.  But that is exactly what we do with the turkey burger and we get a 21 percent food cost.  That's a great combination."
  • Chef Susan Goss of Chicago, "We can actually sell turkey for more money than chicken because it is a little different and usually the portion is bigger."
  • Chef Joseph Worden of Wisconsin, "Turkey is very inexpensive, including the pre-portioned cuts such as tenderloins. Our food cost percentage is very low."

Versatile

Turkey can be the foundation for creative menu offerings on the breakfast, brunch, banquet, kid's, lunch and dinner menus. It is perfect for traditional American fare, New American cuisine and regional specialties. Turkey's subtle flavor blends well with the ethnic flavors of Italian, Mexican, Asian, Mediterranean, French, Thai and Caribbean cuisines. Osso buco, grilled turkey tenderloins, turkey satays, stir-fried turkey, turkey chilies and chowders are all on menus across the United States. Turkey's delicate flavor marries well with a variety of herbs and spices, sauces and methods of preparation. Turkey is also a relished favorite with only simple and staple seasonings.

Healthful

Turkey is widely recognized as a superior protein food, because it contains fewer calories, fat and cholesterol than other proteins. Chefs across the country note that turkey is a great menu addition because it is easy to market the low-cholesterol, low-fat and high-protein benefits. Many people eat out several times a week and look for lower fat options such as turkey.

Turkey Industry

The turkey industry incorporates high-quality standards and a strong commitment to food safety into their business procedures. Clean sanitary practices and quality programs such as the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) ensure a safe, high-quality food.