June 24, 2016 08:31 PM

Belmont Meats culinary expert helps navigate what’s hot on the grill this season

This item has been supplied by a forage marketer and has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hay & Forage Grower.

“Low and slow” is a backyard buzz phrase this summer, as more and more people are migrating to smoking rather than grilling. This shift, along with a move toward ceramic barbecues instead of traditional models, is among the summer trends identified by Belmont Meats, a North American foodservice industry leader based in Toronto.

“Low and slow – low temperatures and longer cooking times – is really gaining in popularity,” says Chef Curtis Dool, Belmont’s culinary expert. “Cooking in the backyard is one of the great joys of summer, and we’re seeing a growing willingness to spend more time getting it just right.”

Barbecues have become very sophisticated, with fuels ranging from natural gas to propane to manufactured charcoal briquettes to natural all wood charcoal to various types of split wood pieces chunks and chips. Consumers have also evolved, now using their barbecues to make a much wider range of products, from traditional burgers and steaks to whole pork shoulders and even pizza, vegetables and desserts.

Other foodservice trends Belmont Meats is seeing as the summer gets underway:

Burgers are Boss – According to recent statistics, 42% of consumers eat burgers at least once a week. Consumers eat an average of 3.7 burgers per month – even more than pizza, which consumers eat on average 3.2 times a month.

“Burgers may be forever popular, but what is in the burgers is changing, with more blending of pork and beef. The pork is lower cost and helps to provide moisture and give a different bite to the burger,” says Chef Curtis.

He noted that what people are putting on their burgers is also new: “Unique and gourmet condiments are trending, such as fancy combinations of mustard, banana ketchup and kimchi, as well as spicy options such as sriracha and ghost peppers.”

Bacon is Big – Bacon wrapped fillet has been a standard for years, and has evolved to lower-cost bacon-wrapped sirloin and other cuts. “The popularity of carnival food has raised new interest in all things wrapped in bacon – from burgers and wieners to meat loaf, sausages and chicken tenders,” Chef Curtis observes.

Different Steaks – With beef prices rising steadily since 2011, less common cuts of steak have become popular. More people are buying the terres major – or shoulder tender – which is similar in tenderness to beef sirloin, or the flat iron steak, another cut known for its tenderness, soft texture and generous marbling.

Lamb is also rising in popularity. “Consumers are rediscovering things like lamb chops, shanks and lamb legs – all fantastic on the barbecue,” Chef Curtis notes.

Part-time Carnivores – A new category of consumer has emerged called the Flexetarian. These are people that opt to not eat any meat for 2 or 3 days every week, creating growing demand for veggie burgers that contain vegetables, ancient grains and beans or pulses.

Close to Home – “Locally sourced is a high priority for most consumers,” Chef Curtis says. “Customers don’t just want Canadian but rather Ontario sourced or Alberta specific beef.”

Hot, Hot, Hot – In the retail market, trends continue toward the spicy, with Asian (particularly Korean) and Hispanic based flavours gaining fans.

Content Matters – Consumers are making conscious sourcing decisions, looking for antibiotic-free beef, raised without added hormones. “People simply want to know what they are eating,” Chef Curtis explains. “Restaurant chains such as A&W and HERO have been very successful in not only educating their customers on what they are eating but also being at the forefront of a major trend in the ‘healthy halo’ category.”

About Belmont Meats:

Belmont Meats has been a leader in the manufacturing and processing of foodservice and retail protein products since 1966. Quality and innovation are the cornerstones of our success and we’ve built a strong reputation around market-insight and the guidance we provide our customers. Our “made to specification” beef products can be found in North America and International markets as private label offerings and Belmont branded solutions.

To learn more, visit: www.belmontmeats.com <http://www.belmontmeats.com>