FEBRUARY: Beef 101: Portion Control vs Cutting from Sub-Primal

Do you buy portion control steaks or cut your own from sub-primal cuts? Let me weigh in. Part of being on an island means that you are in one way or another paying the ocean freight to get your products. Given that cost, you want to waste as little as possible. So let’s look at a strip loin and the typical percentage of waste when cutting from a sub-primal:

striploin-whole-merchants-market-group0x1 Strip Loin-Cuts into New York Strip Steaks, typical percentage of trim is 25-30%. A typical 0X1 Strip weighs about 12 pounds, so a 30% loss in trim means your yield will be about 8.5 pounds. That 8.5 pounds includes the end cut or vein steaks. So deduct another 1.5# for that making your true usable yield for strip steaks 7 pounds. Using that number, if your purchase price was $6.19 per pound after trim your actual price per pound is now $10.62 and we have yet to cut the loin into steaks, wrap them and store them. Let’s say the average time to complete butchering a strip loin is 30 minutes. If you are paying the person cutting $12.00 per hour, that adds another $6.00 to the cost which is now at $11.47 per pound. We can only hope that our person cutting the steaks is somewhat accurate and comes within 1 ounce either way of the targeted weight per steak and you yield eight 14 ounce steaks at a portion cost of $10.04.

So what to do with the trim to help offset the loss? You have roughly 1.5 pounds of end cuts which may be used for sandwich steaks, added to your grind hopper (if you are grinding your own hamburger meat, which hopefully you are if you are cutting your own steaks!) or reserve them for the poor diner that happens to like his steak well done and cut them to the specs of your other steaks. You also have 3 pounds of fat trim. If you are not grinding your own ground beef in house, then the only place the fat trim is going is into the trash can, which is unfortunately where way too much beef trimmings end up.

striploin-portioned-merchants-market-groupNow let us focus on portion controlled, individually
cry o-vac packed steaks, flash frozen immediately after being cut by a laser to the exact portion you desire. You can specify just end cuts, end to end cut, or center cut and you can also determine the amount of age on the beef when cut. Based on average price, if whole 0x1 strips are $6.19 then the center cut steaks would be just about double that or $12.38 per pound or $10.92 per portion. So for $0.88 cents per portion, you have perfectly cut, perfectly portioned steaks for your guests, no trim to deal with, no waste in the trash can and the only labor involved is pulling them from the freezer to thaw daily. Keeping track of inventory is also much easier.

So, yes, the portion cost is slightly higher overall, but is it really? I encourage you to look at your own operation and do a quick analysis. I think you may be surprised. This holds true for every cut of steak and even more so for tenderloins.

Credit: Chip Welfeld

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