Font Size:
Extranet > NetNews > Trends >
Barbecue Makes Big Impact on Menus


Barbecue Makes Big Impact on Menus

While there may be a variety of styles, sauces and smoking methods, one truth is universal: Americans love barbecue. From Texas to the Carolinas, and Alabama to Memphis and St. Louis, there’s no wrong way to ‘que. And there’s no slowing down this powerhouse foodservice trend.

With one-third of consumers saying they’ve eaten barbecue in the past week, it’s no wonder that every type of operation—from QSR to casual independent—is getting in the game.1  In fact, half of all restaurants menued at least one barbecue item in 2015.1

The Wide Appeal of Barbecue

While it may be easy to think of barbecue as a specialty offering at barbecue-centric restaurant chains or independent barbecue shacks, barbecue is actually a popular offering that has opportunities for nearly any operator, considering barbecue has wide appeal for more than 95% of Americans.1 

Barbecue offers a great way for smaller operations to compete with larger chains as two out of three consumers choose independent restaurants to satisfy their barbecue callings. Major chains can seize the opportunity to expand their menus to include more barbecue options beyond the basics—such as ribs and pulled pork—to more out-of-the box ideas such as Arby’s Smokehouse Turkey Sandwich.1

Barbecue Styles

Barbecue offers a great opportunity for operators because there are so many avenues to explore. Many barbecue pit masters spend years perfecting their signature sauces, which often blend vinegar, molasses, ketchup and mustard and can range from tangy to sweet to spicy. Dry rubs add another layer of flavor with brown sugar and an array of spices like chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika and more. According to Datassential, Southern-style sauces—which are vinegar and mustard based—are popular at many operations, but Texas barbecue styles (sweet tomato-based sauce or dry smoked brisket) dominate menus across America.2

To stay ahead of the game, operators have to keep pace with emerging barbecue trends. While the traditional flavors are classic, new infusions add a bit of fun to barbecue offerings and help operations stand out from the crowd. For example, the sweet and savory flavor profile of maple bourbon has become popular, while Sriracha is adding Asian appeal to traditional sauces.1 Meanwhile, barbecue sauces with spirits such as bourbon or fruits such as apple have seen more than triple-digit growth on menus of non-ethnic restaurants in the last four years.3

The Demand for Premium Proteins

Whether it’s brisket, pork, chicken or turkey, American’s love their barbecued meat. With the growing demand for cleaner ingredients and menu transparency, operators should be prepared to offer premium proteins to satisfy patrons. With Perdue Foodservice, operators can feel confident serving premium proteins like Perdue® Harvestland® No Antibiotics EverTenderReady® chicken. Combining the benefits of sous-vide style cooking with Harvestland® No Antibiotics Ever brand quality, TenderReady® chicken can elevate patrons’ favorite barbecue applications. Harvestland® TenderReady® chicken is made with no antibiotics ever, contains only simple, recognizable ingredients, and is fully cooked sous-vide style for tender, flavorful chicken. Share this Barbecue Chicken with Cornbread and Mango-Jicama Slaw recipe with your operators for the summer season.

And with consumers’ demand for organically produced goods showing double-digit growth in recent years,4 operators can meet this demand with Perdue® Harvestland® USDA Certified Organic Fresh and Frozen Chicken. Harvestland® Organic Chicken is raised free range with no antibiotics ever, on an all-vegetarian-fed diet with no animal by-products. Available in thigh, breast and whole bird formats, Harvestland® Organic is ideal for the grill. For grilling inspiration, share this recipe for Organic Grilled Chicken Breast with Grilled Lemon and Fire-Roasted Artichoke Hearts with your customers.

While it doesn’t matter which barbecue style operators feature or how they choose to serve this emerging menu staple, it’s clear that offering some form of barbecue is a smart idea for any operation what wishes to stay competitive in the current BBQ-loving landscape.

1 Maeve Webster, “Barbecue’s wide appeal: retail and restaurant trends,” Oct. 14, 2015

2 Datassential, “Barbecue: Latest Trends and Menu Insights,” Food Bytes, November 2015

3 Fern Glazer, “Fruit, alcohol add distinctive flavors to barbecue,” Nation’s Restaurant News, May 10, 2016

4 United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Organic Market Overview, April 2014