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When you think about the topic of versatility, there are a lot of different ways you can look at it. I’d like to guide us toward this one: the ability to use a single product across your menu in multiple dayparts and in multiple applications.
Why is this so important? First, it enables you to get the biggest bang for your buck, of course. But also, it allows you to arrange your food costs differently—to increase margins on some dishes and control margins with other ingredients elsewhere.
As an example, let’s start with something simple: ingredient chicken. It’s an easy-to-prep product with a lot of potential applications—both hot and cold. Ingredient chicken offers more value in that it’s already prepped, so you’ll worry less about cook time, labor or other back of house concerns. Technomic pointed to the versatility of chicken as a contributing factor to keeping everyone in the family happy at mealtime, as chicken (and pizza) dominated limited-service sales since 2020.²
Kick it off with something cold: Ingredient chicken is perfect for making chilled salads or compound salads—both of which are easy for folks to grab and go. These items could be made multiple days ahead of time and sit in your cooler for when they’re ready to be used/sold, which can help free up your kitchen staff. There are many other tasty and versatile options with cold ingredient chicken as well.
Let’s look at the hot side: Why not use ingredient chicken in a soup or a gumbo? It’s easy! Or, add ingredient chicken and BBQ sauce to pizza to make pulled BBQ chicken pizza. It can go anywhere you need a tender bite of chicken or a piece of chicken that can absorb a lot of sauce at the same time. Think about it this way: when you’re pulling the chicken apart, it’s creating a lot of surface area to capture sauce, which is usually very cost effective.
Try versatile ingredient chicken on your menu today:
Our pulled chicken is available with all white meat if desired, or there are blends of white and dark meat that are more cost-effective. You can also choose a reverse blend with more dark meat than white, which is not only more cost-effective, but also has more chicken flavor from the dark meat.
Other ingredient chicken options:
Let’s explore another example of the versatility of ingredient chicken: soup. Already a very cost-effective, high-margin item, soup can deliver even higher margins when you add a chicken option. Soups including chicken are menu staples – the most widely menued soups. Most menued are “chicken soup” appearing on 18% of menus, “chicken noodle” on another 9.3%, as well as other varieties like chicken rice or chicken vegetable.4
You could put “Add chicken” on the bottom of the menu for $1.50 to $2—whatever that portion cost might be—and it’s a great way to upcharge the soup. To really demonstrate the versatility, think about it this way: you could simply offer regular enchilada soup—or you could pair it with chicken (or beef or another product) and then the same product may go into your chilaquiles in the morning or into burritos, tacos or other formats across dayparts and across your menu.
Try this Chicken Pozole soup recipe
Ultimately, when we talk about versatility, it’s not only about one product simply doing a bunch of things. It’s one product doing a bunch of things and having the ability to control other ingredients in the dish to improve your margin.
As you can see, versatility is definitely our friend—especially in the situation where we are short on labor, short on time, concerned about potential supply chain hiccups, issues or other challenges! We’re happy to help support you with everything from recipes, concepts and ideas to out-of-the-box thinking to help grow your business and feed your bottom line.
1Technomic Operator Recovery, The New Industry Landscape, Sep 23, 2021
2Technomic Top 500 Report, April 2021
3Datassential SNAP Profile, Pulled Chicken, Jan 2022
4Datassential, Soup Varieties Instant Chart, Jan 2022
*Minimally processed, no artificial ingredients