Chicken and Beef are the largest volume proteins, as well as the most frequently menued on American restaurant menus. Individually, Beef and Chicken are each listed on approximately one of every four entrees, whether Center of the Plate (COP) or Prepared Entrees (PE).
Center of Plate Entrees consist of a distinct portioned protein, a veggie and a carb/starch, while prepared entrees integrate a protein with various carbs/starches and vegetables. Center of Plate Entrees, with an average menu price of $14.95, are far more expensive than Prepared Entrees at $9.95 (see Table Two). Because of advance preparation economies, margins on prepared entrees may even be greater than COP margins
Data in the table below indicates that proteins (meat) are suitable for both COP and PE menu part positioning. Overall, proteins on the menu lean toward a COP rather than a PE presentation. Chicken appears 52% of the time as a COP entrée and 48% as a Prepared Entrée, and Beef shows up on 55% of menu occasions as COP vs. 45% for PE.
Some proteins like Fish (88%), Lamb (79%), and Game Meats/Birds (81%) are much more adaptable to COP menu presentation. Seafood (other than fish and shrimp) as well as Fresh Pork (ribs, chops, loins, shoulder etc.) favor COP over PE by a two to one ratio. Processed Pork (ham, bacon, deli meats, pepperoni, sausage) accounts for a very low 3.6% of proteins presented as entrees. Processed Pork is frequently used in COP entrees as a flavor enhancing topping/filling to other proteins whether beef, chicken, fish or other, but it also enjoys a following in Prepared Entrees.
Menu Prices for entrees are close to parity for Chicken, when comparing an average COP price of $9.95 with an average PE price of $9.50. Turkey prices follow a similar pattern ($7.99 vs. $7.50). (See Table Two) When menu price is indexed (COP price to PE price), Beef COP average price at $15.99 is exactly double the average PE price ($7.99). The index for Fresh Pork at 188 and for Game Meats/Birds at 225 is close to the index for Beef. Only one protein, Lamb, realizes a higher average price as a PE ($14.00) than a COP ($12.95). Protein suppliers and menu development teams at restaurants will, no doubt, draw their own diverse conclusions from the data. Note: pizza, sandwich and burger menu parts are not considered as Entrees in this analysis.
Leading Center of Plate Entrees for Chicken includes Chicken Fingers/Strips/Tenders and Fried Chicken. Filet Mignon and Prime Rib are the front runners for COP Beef while Baby Back Ribs and BBQ Pork Ribs lead the pack for Fresh Pork. (See Table Three)
Leading Prepared Entrees for Chicken are Chicken Burrito and Chicken Parmesan. Leading PE's for Beef are Beef Burrito and Spaghetti with Meatballs. Other leading PE items by protein type are Cioppino, Shrimp Scampi, Seafood Stew, Pork Burrito, Jambalaya w/ Pork, Lamb Stew, Duck Confit and Turkey Chili. (See Table Four)
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Protein Positioning on the Menu by Entree and Item Type Chicken and Beef are the largest volume proteins, as well as the most frequently menued on American restaurant menus. Individually, Beef and Chicken are each listed on approximately one of every four entrees, whether Center of the Plate (COP) or Prepared Entrees (PE).