Sodexo started with a soft rollout of the patty last year. It created eight burger recipes under its Mindful umbrella. The company’s Mindful identity creates a feeling of overall healthy eating without broadcasting clinical specifications or sacrificing flavor and quality. While there are caloric, fat, sodium etc., requirements for products to fall under the Mindful umbrella, they’re not advertised that way.
The results of the rollout were positive, but the distribution model in place called for something different, according to Morasco.
“So, we said it probably makes sense for us to move this to a bulk format because we can still do hand formed patties, but we could also open it up to things like meatloaf, chili, tacos, and everything you can think of; Salisbury steak, shepherd’s pie, stuffed peppers, all those different things…meat lasagna,” he says.
Zutell adds, “Product trials were conducted in fall 2017 and the ground beef and mushroom blend was a success. The current packaging format for the blend is in 5-lb. packs which is versatile for use in chili, tacos, sauces and many other recipes, as well as for making great-tasting burgers. The beef and mushroom blend is nutritionally balanced providing customers with an additional dietary option.”
The 5-lb. chubs come in 20-lb. cases. Called “The Natural,” the frozen, bulk blend is 75 percent 80/20 lean ground beef without antibiotics or hormones and 25 percent ground, frozen button mushrooms. Morasco says the packaging format provides good versatility and gives operators many different applications.
“It’s not a new idea, but I think what’s been a big differentiator and excitement generator for us is that we made the decision to use non-conventional ground beef,” he says. “It’s ground beef that has the attributes of raised without antibiotic or hormone use. That’s our take on this one.”
The blend is slightly softer than a 100 percent ground beef making it especially nice for making smashburgers on flat top griddles. It also retains moisture well, which allows good performance when working in less than perfect circumstances.
“If we’re doing some remote site, or we’re doing a restricted equipment feeding scenario, where we’ve got to feed 500 people in half an hour, the hold time is phenomenal,” Morasco says. “We’ve held it for 30 min., 45 min. and an hour with little to no degradation in quality or juiciness. It really holds the moisture, which we love. It’s really fantastic from that standpoint.”
Zutell and Cargill expect the blend to be in full distribution by the end of 2018 and have ramped up production.
“Based on the enthusiastic reception, we anticipate demand will continue to increase,” he says. “The customer and consumer reaction has made this a standout product and Sodexo has been an excellent partner and collaborator.”