Every number has a story: 40%
There are only two tenderloins on a beef animal. Steaks that are known as “middle meats” make up just 12% of the total carcass.
That is to say that not everybody can sell filet mignons.
And that’s okay with John Soules, Jr., of John Soules Foods, in Tyler, Texas.
Since 1975 his family company has made its niche selling value added products (VAP), namely making fajita meat out of undervalued cuts.
Don’t try to tell John that the inside skirt, the sirloin flap and pectoral and lifter meat might not have the same flashy appeal that a rib or a striploin might, because he might not care.
Those very cuts helped inspire this whole blog series. I heard our CAB president John Stika address the brand’s annual conference crowd this year, and he shared that the VAP category represents 3% of total brand sales, and has grown 7 out of the last ten years. It had the second-best year in history.
Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand marinated fajita meat led the way again, he said, growing by almost 40%.
I like Mexican food, but was there a sudden surge I didn’t know about? Had fajitas become the “next big thing”? Surely there was a story.
That’s what brought me to John Soules. He confirmed that in four years of selling CAB marinated fajita meat sales went from zero to around 3 million pounds, but John says it’s more about the flexibility of the product than a new trend.
“Because it has a very neutral flavor profile it can be used in a lot of different places,” he says.
Mexican restaurants, certainly, but it makes great “comfort food” for diners serving up beef tips and gravy. Satisfying, yet price conscious, lunch specials might feature the product in sandwiches or as breaded chicken fried steak.
“We appreciate the time and work that ranchers put into raising cattle. From my end, you can’t impart quality. You have to buy the raw material and hope to enhance it,” he says, noting that the consistency is something that keeps his customers coming back.
Here at CAB, we don’t want to be known as just a middle meat company. Around half of the carcass value, give or take, comes from the end meats. It would be absurd to expect pectoral meat to carry the same premium that a rib would, but a few cents a pound on a growing category is a net positive for everyone.
“You’re only going to sell ribeyes and strips to steakhouses, and there are center of the plate items a lot of others places,” he says. “You want to capture that center of the plate in many different channels.”
Thanks, John, for helping us do just that!
May your bottom line be filled with black ink,
PS-Our “Every number has a story” series marches on. If you’ve been missing out, catch up with these links:
Day one: $6.93
Day two: 2.5 million
Day three: $204.10
Day four: 12.1 million
Day five: 11/13
Day six: 8 million
Day seven: 139
Day eight: $39
Day nine: 30.1%
Day 10: 120 million
Day 11: -2.26
Day 12: 12 to 15 minutes
Day 13: 30%
Day 14: 32 million
Day 15: $154,000
Day 16: 118
Day 17: .51
Day 18: 105
Day 19: 1650
Day 20: 36,575
Day 21: 603
Day 22: 23%
Day 23: 31
Day 24: .53