A Prime Opportunity
Upon reading a text message asking if he used any Certified Angus Beef ® brand Choice cuts on his menu, Chef Shawn Heine simply replied with six words:
Heine is the executive chef and partner at Prime Cincinnati, the behemoth restaurant that draws visitors from all over the Ohio River Valley in search of classic, large, dry-aged steaks in the heart of the Queen City.
Since its beginning, Heine and his partners have staked their reputation on Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime steaks, which they then dry age in house to deliver guests an experience truly unique to the city.
Thanks to never-before-seen availability of the brand’s Prime-grade cuts, an ever-growing list of chefs like Heine are stepping up the quality on their menus. They’re adding the brand’s highest premium offering with renewed faith that supplies are strong and will remain so.
Just about everywhere you look, chefs who have a long history with the brand – as well as plenty of newcomers – have taken advantage of historically narrow price spreads to offer Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime over the brand’s traditional Choice cuts, and commodity USDA Prime beef.
In fact, sales of Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime increased by more than 30% in 2018 – made possible because of the unprecedented increase in supply of the highest quality cattle. It’s a result of farmers and ranchers making intentional decisions at the ranch in response to market signals driving higher quality across the entire herd.
Greater supply paired with more manageable prices have enabled more restaurants to embrace the brand’s Prime line more fully. Longtime Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime users, like Charleston’s Oak Steakhouse, have maintained their premium offering on their menus, even while expanding the concept to sister restaurants in Nashville, Charlotte, Atlanta, and, coming soon, Raleigh.
Others, like RED, the Steakhouse, which once only featured branded Prime cuts at its South Beach (Miami, Fla.) location, is now able to offer it in markets like Cleveland.
Still others, like Chef Glenn Wheeler’s downtown Omaha staple Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops, which previously hung its hat on commodity Prime, has upgraded to the brand’s Prime line.
Even non-steakhouses, like Watershed Kitchen in Columbus, Ohio, are now insisting their beef offerings must be Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime.
Meat companies across the country are among the brand partners building opportunities on the increased availability of the most highly marbled product.
Companies like Purely Meats in Chicago, which supplies both Prime Cincinnati and Oak Steakhouses, has introduced Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime into many of the Windy City’s prominent steakhouses, as well as renowned restaurants outside of the city.
Beyond the tried-and-true classic steakhouse concepts, Sysco Los Angeles has utilized the brand’s Prime product to open doors into the city’s exploding Korean BBQ scene, while Newport Meats, also in Los Angeles, has introduced it at Mitsuwa, a Japanese supermarket with locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and Honolulu.
Indeed, restaurants are no longer the sole provenance of this exclusive beef experience. Foodservice businesses have been increasingly joined by retail partners, like Reasor’s, Roche Bros., DeMoulas Market Basket and ShopRite, who have all introduced the brand’s Prime cuts – some dry aged using in-store coolers – as an important differentiator.
“We wanted to bring on a signature item for ourselves, and we thought, ‘What better program could we go with than Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime?’” says Frank Vitale, meat director of Roche Bros. The retailer has featured the brand’s Prime ground beef with much success for the past three years, and this year added a Prime sirloin strip, its signature steak cut, among its brand offerings.
“It’s very easy for our team to get behind a product like this,” he notes. “And when they buy into it, it’s guaranteed to be a success.”
It’s all further evidence that when supplies are there, those who count on the brand to help fuel their businesses will claim the very best of what’s available.