CHICAGO – During the past year, foodservice promotions featuring barbecue were most common in the summer months and least common in the winter, according to Technomic’s Category Close-Up: Barbecue report. Barbecue is increasingly prevalent on menus, said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president.

“More than half of all operators we track [57 percent] menu at least one dish with barbecue sauce,” he added. “Whether it’s introduced in the preparation or as a flavor, barbecue is very versatile and, more importantly, very different depending on regionality.”

Operators are using many methods to incorporate barbecue onto menus. The following are study highlights:

• Overall menu incidence of barbecue sauce is up more than 5 percent in the past year.
• Sweet/honey-style barbecue sauces are declining, while spicy/pepper varieties are gaining.
• Coleslaw is the most commonly menued side dish at barbecue concepts, followed by French fries and baked beans.
• Most barbecue-sauce mentions don’t have a flavor associated with the sauce, indicating large opportunities for operators to offer more innovative barbecue sauce flavors.
• Smoked is the most commonly used barbecue preparation, and pork is the most commonly barbecued protein.

Barbecue is a perennial consumer favorite when dining out, Technomic concludes. A feature focusing on how processors are taking advantage of the barbecue segment will be published in the July issue of Meat&Poultry.