27 May 2024

Meat protein or egg protein: Options for restaurateurs

Culinary trends

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The multiple financial challenges in the food service sector are making daily restaurant management significantly more complicated. Restaurateurs are faced with continuously climbing energy costs, greater difficulty hiring and retaining competent teams, and the soaring price of raw materials. In parallel, the ongoing trend of working from home and hybrid working has led to a decline in lunchtime diners visiting restaurants, while no-shows are becoming more and more frequent, further weakening restaurant profitability. In response to these challenges, restaurateurs must manage their finances even more minutely, optimise their menus and carefully select their suppliers in order to remain competitive.


One point of leverage for overcoming these issues involves reinventing restaurants’ culinary options, namely by offering a variety of protein sources. In this context, eggs can be strategic resources. Given that nearly all Europeans (including 96% of the French population) consider them to be a vital part of their diets, eggs have a key role to play in devising menus that are both appealing and economically shrewd, since meat protein is more expensive.

Eggs: The solution for slashing supply costs

Restaurateurs are facing a substantial rise in the cost of protein, which directly affects their supply choices. Over the past year, the price of beef surged by 13.3%, while the price of poultry shot up 19.7%. Eggs were not spared this trend, with a 22.8% rise primarily caused by increased processing-related costs such as packaging, transport and energy, as well as the transition to alternative farming methods. These upswings can be attributed to a variety of factors, like the climbing cost of the raw materials used in animal feed and the challenges posed by agricultural production for ruminants. As for fish, its consumption is decreasing, due in part to the rising cost of cold storage.


In spite of these upsurges, eggs are still economically advantageous. Their lower initial cost and their simple preparation make them particularly attractive to restaurateurs seeking to optimise the cost of their materials.

Simplified preparations and their impact on staff

Preparing meat protein requires special cooking techniques and a qualified – and possibly larger – kitchen crew. Eggs however provide an interesting alternative: they can be used in multiple forms (poached, scrambled, in omelettes, etc.), and certain products like industrially prepared poached eggs can minimise prep times. For example, reheating Cocotine’s poached eggs is not only quick but also reduces the need for constant monitoring by a cook, unlike when cooking cuts of meat or fish.


By way of example, a perfect egg served on a bed of creamed vegetables typically appears in restaurant menus with a price tag of around €6-7, for a total cost of just €2 or so. For restaurateurs, this 200% margin is harder to achieve with meat protein.


Eggs can be used in a myriad of recipes, from starters to desserts. Their versatility means restaurateurs can incorporate them into many dishes, maximising their utility and cutting the costs associated with purchasing other, more costly ingredients.


By serving egg-based dishes, restaurateurs can offer affordable options whilst maintaining a satisfactory profit margin. Eggs can be used as main ingredients or sides, making it possible to diversify a menu and still keep prices appealing to customers.

Eggs to simplify food freshness and inventory management

Effective inventory management is crucial in food service when it comes to preventing losses and guaranteeing product freshness. Eggs, with their relatively long shelf lives compared to fresh meat and fish, provide for improved storage flexibility. This allows restaurateurs to order large quantities and reduce the frequency of deliveries, resulting in lower transport and management costs.


Eggs can be stored for relatively long periods of time, which reduces the risk of food waste for restaurateurs. In addition, their culinary versatility means they can be used in a wide array of dishes, helping kitchens go through their inventories more rapidly.

Adaptability to dietary trends

Eggs can be incorporated into an incredible variety of dishes, ranging from starters to desserts. This flexibility is a major advantage for chefs looking to regularly update their menus or meet specific requests. For example, a 63-degree egg can make for a refined addition to a salad, a central feature of a dish like shakshuka or ramen, or else a key ingredient in a crème brûlée or a flan.


With the rise in public awareness of special diets like vegetarianism, low-carb diets and protein-rich diets, eggs are the natural solution… and a satisfying one at that. They are rich in high-quality protein, essential vitamins and minerals, making them particularly well-suited to customers who are worried about their health or who have adopted restrictive diets. In addition, in a context in which sustainability is becoming a major concern for consumers, eggs can be presented as a more sustainable option than meat, especially when they come from certified, responsible sources. Many consumers today prefer to support establishments that offer ethical, eco-friendly options, and eggs – particularly those that come from organic or free-range farms – provide the perfect response to this demand.


Egg-based dishes tend to be widely popular, guaranteeing there will be ongoing demand for them. Whether they are served at breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, egg-based dishes are usually appreciated at any time of day, which can help maintain a steady stream of customers and stimulate sales.


As demonstrated by cost analyses, their ease of preparation, inventory management and menu flexibility, eggs offer multiple advantages compared to meat protein. At a time when costs are fluctuating and operational efficiency is more pivotal than ever, selecting ingredients like eggs can not only slash spending but also expand the latitude enjoyed by chefs and restaurateurs.


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