Buzz in the restaurant industry suggests veal may be a trendy product for menus in 2009, according to a dairy producer serving on the industry’s Veal Committee.

“Restaurant chefs and operators recognize what a high quality, versatile and cost-effective product veal can be for diners,” according to Randy Meabon, a dairy producer from Wattsburg, Pa., and a member of the beef checkoff-funded Veal Committee. “Though its image as a luxurious entree for white table cloth restaurants is secure, it’s also finding more mainstream and price-sensitive uses in other applications. In addition, it’s being promoted more aggressively in supermarkets, providing a strong link across marketing outlets.”

Meabon points to a survey by the National Restaurant Association that appeared in Nation’s Restaurant News in October 2008. The survey, conducted of 1,600 chefs of the American Culinary Federation, showed that new cuts of meat – including the Tuscan Bone-in Veal Chop – were ranked the fifth among 208 top trends for the new year, with 78 percent of chefs ranking it as a “hot trend.” The cut is being featured by Flemings Steakhouse and Wine Bar.

In addition, the Rocky Mountain News on Jan. 1 shared some dining trends of 2009, including one from Fruition Restaurant in Denver for veal breast. The cut, according to the restaurant’s executive chef, is full of flavor and very versatile and is the “up-and-coming” ingredient for 2009. Alex Seidel told the newspaper veal is often considered a luxury item that carries a high price tag, but veal breast’s lower price tag “means we can create an innovative, approachable and tasty appetizer using veal.”

To build on these restaurant trends, the Beef Checkoff-funded Veal Committee has created a new promotion opportunity for supermarkets. The program, with the support of veal packers, provides funding for qualified supermarkets willing to advertise veal through Jan. 30, 2009. Veal suppliers have access to funds to be used in this promotion, in combination with their own efforts to increase veal advertising during the veal retail ads program.

“Although veal promotions through the checkoff in the past have focused mostly on the restaurant trade, we think this effort will expand the opportunities veal has in all marketing channels,” says Meabon, who also serves on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. “By broadening our scope, we’re creating a means for reaching the consumer in more locations and increasing overall demand for veal.”