CHICAGO — What’s in a menu name? Better flavor, according to Technomic’s “Center of the plate: Beef and pork consumer trend report.” The food service market research firm found consumers believe beef and pork menu items with descriptors such as grass-fed, lean, organic or natural will taste better than other beef and pork products that do not feature the same descriptors.

“Consumers have gained familiarity in the retail sector with descriptions of beef and pork products denoting them as premium,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president. “Now as they visit restaurants, they are carrying those experiences with them and seeking out quality cuts, breeds, and preparation through descriptors on the menu.”

The authors of the report also found:

• Among consumers who do not eat meat regularly, health is the No. 1 deterrent. Many consumers also feel that lean and extra lean cuts of meat actually taste better while also being healthier.
• New menu trends on the horizon for beef and pork include Asian and Caribbean culinary influences, as well as upscale positioning for urban barbecue concepts.
• Consumers are interested in more variety from the pork offerings at restaurants and indicate they would order pork dishes more often if these needs were satisfied.