Pizza Insights: Ideas about keeping your operation fresh

Posted by Erika Mertens on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 15:05 PM

Industry experts offered their insights at the recent International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, NV. Jason Dorsey, Chief Strategic Officer at The Center for Generational Kinetics; Darren Tristano, Executive Director at Technomic; Nancy Kruse, President of the Kruse Company, and Glen Cybulski, COO of Persona Pizza Holdings, among others, shared views on topics including the Millennial generation, trends, and more—and their expertise is well worth sharing here.


Differentiation - Make sure you stand apart from your competition. There are many things you can do to set yourself apart, such as offering unique pizza ingredients, signature sauces, and interesting combinations. 

Pesto Chicken Sausage Pizza | Fully Cooke Meats
Pesto and Chicken Sausage Pizza

Unexpected pizza toppings, like our new Chicken Sausage with Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomatoes, will appeal to patrons looking for a different spin. Or offer a Creamy Beef and Mushroom Pizza with Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, Gruyere, spinach, mushrooms, and our Seasoned Ground Beef. Design a varied menu—and don’t forget about unique drinks and desserts as well.


Appeal to Millennials – Millennials are a quickly growing group of future spenders (and future employees), with a trillion dollars of spending power predicted. It’s important to know what resonates with this generation. 

  • Value – “Value” means a good product/experience at a fair price. To add value, think about quality; ambience; choice; customization; unique offerings; sustainability, social responsibility and local ties; and transparency.
  • Communication – Communicate with your audience digitally, and be specific about your uniqueness. Because this generation is visual, show them what you’ve got to offer rather than telling them.
  • Flavor – The bigger and bolder, the better—especially with pizza. In fact, 54% of all Americans prefer highly spiced foods! And 55% of 18- to 34-year-olds want to try new flavors and lots of variety. A pizza made with our Sriracha Sausage, along with Sriracha cream cheese, mozzarella, green onions, and a honey drizzle, would appeal to this crowd. Ethnic options are on the rise, with Mexican a favorite. Try offering new flavors seasonally or as LTOs to drive traffic.


Honey and Sesame Thai Pizza | Fully Cooked Meats
Honey & Sesame Thai Pizza

With all these trends, customer demands, and upgrades, what about pizza profit margins? While the average profit margin in the industry is 7%, there are ways to increase yours: 

  • Business and menu engineering is key
  • Portion control means less waste
  • Investment in systems and staff pays
  • Partnerships with trusted vendors can lead to success


Most important, embrace who you are and don’t be afraid to blow your own horn.  Make sure your brand is strong and growing, and stay true to it as you innovate. When you strive for differentiation—even if you take baby steps—you’re one step closer to making sure you’re always offering the kind of exciting, flavorful experience Millennials talk about, share, and come back to again and again.

See how our fully cooked meats can help you differentiate your products. Request a sample today!


Tags: Fully Cooked Meats, Sriracha, Pizza, Pizza Expo, Pizza Toppings, Mexican, Pizza Profit, Ethnic, Pizza Insights, Millennials, Customization, Pizza Ingredients, Chicken Sausage, Differentiation, Seasoned Ground Beef

The Lowdown on Millennials: Five Things You Need to Know

Posted by Erika Mertens on Mon, May 11, 2015 @ 08:05 AM

According to Jason Dorsey and Darren Tristano, speakers at the 2015 Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, there’s a swarm of grown-up kids out there who are ready and able to impact your business more than you may realize.

  1. Millennials mean business. Millennials—those born between 1977 and 1995—present an enormous opportunity in the foodservice arena. How enormous? Well, the buying power of this generation represents $1.7 trillion. And by 2017, they are expected to spend more than their parents and the rest of the baby-boomer population. In addition, members of this group could be your future employees, so it pays to understand what makes them tick.

  2. They love to eat out. What they’re looking for: restaurants that offer an overall “experience”; good value (which includes quality, ingredients, options, customization, uniqueness, sustainability, local ties and a fair price). In order of preference, they go for fast food, fast casual, coffee shops, and midscale.
  3. They love their freedom. Millennials are starting their first jobs, getting married, and having children later; 28-year-olds are 3.5 years behind where baby boomers were at that age. Their loyalties are still developing as they continue to sample different choices. This is a huge opportunity for foodservice!
  4. Keepin’ it real. This group values authenticity and transparency. They want to make an impact in the world.
  5. Technology is everything. To communicate with Millennials, use the platforms they know and love. They’re visual learners who respond to photos and videos. They also eat with their eyes so photos on menus are important. Tweets should focus on info that’s local and pertinent to them; only send them 2 to 3 times per week. A LinkedIn account is essential for operators, as it makes them seem more human. Any loyalty program communication should be done digitally (and they expect something for free).
    Photo Credit:

Embrace this incredibly influential generation—Millennials are key to your success—by sampling one of our high quality, great-tasting pizza toppings today!

Tags: Pizza Expo, Pizza Toppings, Food Service, Authenticity, Pizza Operation, Millennials, Customization, Transparency

Eight Mindblowing Facts About Pizza

Posted by Erika Mertens on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 @ 16:04 PM

The power of pizza cannot be ignored: Americans now spend $37 billion a year on pizza, according to a new report from the USDA. Enjoy some of the incredible statistics below, adapted from Angelica Frey,

  1. About 1 in 8 Americans eats pizza any givenday. Pre-teens eat about two times the national average, while Americans over 60 years old eat about half the national average.Burke Fully Cooked Meats | Pizza Facts
  2. More that ¼ of boys between 6 and 19 eat pizza every day. Women eat less pizza than guys at just about every age level, but girls between 6 and 19 still eat more pizza than any other category of guys.
  3. The word pizza first appeared in 997 AD. It was first in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta. The text stated that a tenant of a certain property was supposed to give the bishop of Gaeta “duodecim pizze,” or twelve pizzas, every Christmas day, and another twelve on Easter Sunday.
  4. The most expensive pizza in the world costs $12,000. When you order Pizza Louis XIII from chef Renato Viola, you might have to take out a second mortgage. The whole prepara-tion takes place at your house and includes the presence of a sommelier, a sous chef, and chef Viola himself. Toppings for the pizza include three types of caviar, red prawns, Mediterra-nean lobster, and sea cicada. The pizza comes with Remy Martin Cognac and Champagne Krug Clos du Mesnil. Annoy-ingly, this $12,000 pizza is only eight inches in diameter.
  5. The world’s largest round pizza was 131 feet in diameter. Dovilio Nargi led the team of chefs who made the pie. The 51,257-pound pie contained 19,800 pounds of flour, 10,000 pounds of tomato sauce, 8,800 pounds of mozzarella cheese, 1,488 pounds of margarine, 551 pounds of rock salt, 220 pounds of lettuce, and 55 pounds of vinegar.
  6. In the U.S., 4% of pizza eaten by children is for breakfast. Although pizza is predominantly a dinner food for adults, 58% of pizza consumption for kids (teens and under) is for snack-ing, breakfasts, and lunches.
  7. In 2011, pizza was considered a “vegetable” by the government. School meals that are subsidized by the government must contain a certain amount of vegetables. In 2011, a serv-ing of pizza contained at least two tablespoons of tomato sauce actually met those vegetable requirements.
  8. Each year, 251,770,000 pounds of pepperoni are consumed on pizzas. Pepperoni can be found of 36% of pizzas in America. Other countries prefer a wide variety of other toppings.

Tags: Fully Cooked Meats, Industry Trends & Updates, Pizza Stats

Burke Launches New Breakfast Meats

Posted by Amy Thielking on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 @ 15:10 PM


NEVADA, Iowa – Burke Corporation, a leading provider of fully cooked meat products to manufacturers and pizzerias, recently launched three new breakfast meats – Spicy Breakfast Sausage, Maple-Flavored Breakfast Sausage, and Corned Beef Crumbles.


These new items were developed to help manufacturers capture the growing breakfast daypart opportunity. According to IRI grocery retail data, breakfast hand-helds and breakfast entrées are both growing segments in the frozen aisle. With wide application – indulgent, ethnic, bold flavors – these flavorful meats are in line with today’s consumer preference.

Spicy Breakfast Sausage is made with a variety of peppers and sage for a traditional breakfast flavor, with a little kick. The product is prepared Hand-Pinched Style® for an artisan look. It’s ideal for savory breakfast items like pizzas, and can extend deliciously to Mexican-inspired dishes like skillets or tostados.

Maple-Flavored Breakfast Sausage mixes savory sage with sweet maple flavors for a well-rounded, signature ingredient for unique breakfast ideas such as stuffed waffles or egg scrambles.

Corned Beef Crumbles are tender with the delicious signature corned beef flavor and red color. Crumbled perfectly every time for a homemade look -it’s perfect for hashes, pitas, or unique pizzas.

For more information about these breakfast meats or to inquire for samples, visit:

  Request a sample


Tags: Breakfast Sausage, Custom Solutions, Menu Ideas, News Release, Corned Beef, breakfast entrees

Catch the Heat with Sriracha Sausage Pizzas

Posted by Lauren Millen on Thu, Sep 04, 2014 @ 16:09 PM

Heat is hot. Fire up your pizza menu with these recipes featuring the newest Burke product -- Hand-Pinched Style® Sriracha Sausage.

Bloody Mary Pizza - Combine tomato sauce, horse radish and Worcestershire sauce then spread over a flatbread crust. Top with Mozzarella cheese, Sriracha Sausage, fresh celery, and sliced green olives.  bloody mary pizza
 fiery sriracha pizza Fiery Sriracha Pizza - A combination of mozzarella cheese, Sriracha Sausage, jalapenos, and sautéed onions create a pizza leaving your mouth on fire.  


 Burke is here to help enhance your menu, which starts with quality fully-cooked meats -- request a sample today!


Tags: 2014 trends, Sriracha Sausage, Fully Cooked Meats, Pizza, Menu Ideas, Hand-Pinched Style®, Food Service

Grow Your Business with Flatbreads and Alternative Pizza Crusts

Posted by Lauren Millen on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

In the limited-service segment, 65% of adults consider the healthfulness of a menu when making a dining decision. This isn't the only section of the restaurant industry that is seeing an increasing health-awareness. Offering flatbread for sandwiches and pizza shells provides consumers innovative, healthful choices without sacrificing flavor. Because there is no industry standard definition for "flatbread," it encompases many types of bread with origins around the world, some of which are below. With flatbread's rising popularity, your customers will be excited to see them on your menu. 


Types of flatbreads

ciabatta breakfast melt 1 resized 600

Ciabatta - Originating in Italy, this dough is made of yeast, flour, water, salt, sometimes olive oil and milk – no herbs and spices. The crispy exterior, many large air holes interior, and slightly sour taste make this a popular choice for sandwiches such as this Ciabatta Breakfast Melt featuring Burke Turkey Breakfast Sausage


Pita – One of the world’s oldest recipes and another Middle Eastern staple, which consists of flour, water, salt, sugar, and some type of yeast/fermenter. Pita dough shaped into a round, flat dough ball then baked at a high temperature (450-500°F). Separation of the dough happens from the carbon dioxide and steam expanding and the dry exterior pulling away from interior after baking.

Tortilla – The most popular ethnic bread in US, coincidentally coming from our neighbors, Mexico. The dough, made from corn or flour, is kneaded, given time to rest, then rolled and cut into rounds. Traditionally the rounds are cooked in a hot-cast iron skillet or griddle and served fresh off the heat. 

Burke Corporation Fully Cooked Meats

Naan – This Indian cuisine staple is an elegant combination of white flour and yogurt. Traditionally naan is baked in a tandoor (clay oven) but can be made in an oven at home. The soft texture and round shape make it a great choice for any wrap, such as this Chorizo Gyro with Mint Yogurt Sauce featuring Burke Chorizo Topping. 



Have You Thought About Alternative Pizza Crust Options?

Customers with a gluten allergy or health-conscious habits see pizza as a carbohydrate-filled indulgence. Here are 2 alternative crust ideas using vegetables as the main ingredient:

Cauliflower Crust – A simple mixture of mashed cauliflower, eggs, and your favorite seasons is a great way to keep the simple carbohydrate count low and please health conscious customers.

Sweet Potato Crust – Mashed sweet potatoes, all-purpose flour, baking soda, seasonings of choice, and a dash of salt bring a unique flavor to the table as the base for your favorite pizza toppings.  


Growth of Flatbread Pizza

Burke Corporation Fully Cooked Meats

According to a Datassential Menu Trends Report released in October 2013, 5 percent of restaurant menus include flatbread pizza options, and menu penetration has nearly doubled since 2009. The fastest growing toppings for flatbread pizzas include beef and pork crumbles. Other flavors worth noting are Margherita and rosemary. Jack, rich cheddar, creamy ricotta, and fresh mozzarella are cheeses that are currently thriving.

An article released by PMQ reiterated the infiltration of flatbread pizza into the market as well. GuestMetrics’ Peter Reidhead stated “While non-flatbread pizzas were 83% of total pizza sales in 2013’s first quarter, about 60% of the incremental growth for pizza was due to strength in flatbread pizzas.” Multiple factors are contributing to the growth of the flatbread craze. Consumers view flatbreads as an artisan dish, healthier option, and the creative versatility is endless. An unlimited amount of toppings can be used, and their application goes beyond pizza with menu ideas such as sandwiches and salads.  


Final Words

If you are looking to add some ethic flair to your menu, flatbread options and alternative pizza crusts are a simple way to do so. The versatility provides a blank slate to let your creativity shine. While experimenting with alternative pizza crusts and flatbreads – be sure to experiment with some Burke fully cooked meat toppings too – request a sample today

Tags: Current Restaurant Trends, Industry Trends & Updates, Innovation, Menu Ideas

2014 Trends on the Rise

Posted by Lauren Millen on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 12:07 PM

As the year continues it is apparent that chefs, associations, and food professionals have done an excellent  job predicting the 2014 culinary trends. 

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) conducted a survey at the end of 2013 with what professional chefs considered 2014 food trends in numerous categories.  One of the top trends is focusing on child nutrition and concern for more health-conscious kid’s meals. Parents and professionals are seeking uses for whole grains and more fruit and vegetable sides.

Coming out on top was bold, ethnic-inspired breakfast dishes. Crepes and burritos are perking up breakfast menus across the United States. According to a Food Genius report, not-at-home-breakfast sales have increased 13 percent in the last nine months alone with quick-service as the leader in activity. Overall, Americans are demanding more breakfast.

Ethnic influence can be seen in all aspects of the food community. Peruvian, Korean, and Southeast Asian have captured the most attention. These international styles are set apart for their unique spices, alternative grains, and use of proteins. A Peruvian dish to capture this trend is causa, which features layers of mashed yellow potatoes, avocado, and mild vegetables. The way other countries prepare food, like pickling and fermentation, are countering the traditional grilling, baking, and frying Americans are accustom too.

A recently published report by Technomic highlighted foodservice mid-year trends. Sriracha is hot (try our newest product – Sriracha Sausage), and everyone is loving the heat. Be on the lookout for habanero and ghost pepper flavors, and spicier sauces. Complementing spicier sauces, barbeque sauce for pizzas, sandwiches, and wraps is smokin’ hot. Restaurant Business Online also noted that smoke-infusing foods other than meat, such as mushrooms or pickles, is a trend to watch.

Fast casual and quick service restaurant (QSR) experiences are evolving due to the technology boom. More common in casual dining chains, menus are shrinking in hopes of more user-friendly, efficient service. Consumers heightened interest in food ingredients are challenging restaurants on how to effectively communicate the information. One solution is to publish ingredients online and to create an app that includes product information. According to QSR Magazine, adding avenues for customers to pay online or with their mobile devices is becoming commonplace. Benefits to going mobile include keeping up with competitors (who are also considering it), simple implementation, easier tracking of restaurant activity, and the ability to offer more branded promotions. In addition to mobile apps, consumers would like to see more self-ordering terminals.  

Burke Corporation Fully Cooked Meats

Other trends Technomic predicted at the end of 2013 include local sourcing and transparency of ingredients. More than ever, consumers want to know what is in their food and if it is healthy. Alternative  grains used in pasta and flatbread items is one way more health-conscious items are coming into the market.  In the pizza industry this can be easily done by incorporating a whole grain crust into your menu, like in this Meaty Whole Wheat Pizza.


The food community is always evolving, and the 2014 culinary trends hold true to that statement. Foodservice and manufacturing leaders are here to satisfy American’s craving for bold, new innovations from spicy international dishes to using more ancient grains. The first half of 2014 may be in the books, but these trends are looking to make records. 


Download your copy of Burke’s 2014 Trends Report for creative menu inspiration today!

Tags: Current Restaurant Trends, 2014 trends, Industry Trends & Updates

Creative New Menu Ideas for Manufactures Selling to Schools

Posted by Hannah Carter on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 @ 09:07 AM

It's a well-known fact that kids are among the pickiest eaters.  School meals are no exception.  School lunch items not only have to be nutritious, but they need to be delicious in order to be eaten.  Manufactures selling to schools have a difficult role, but with some creative menu new ideas school lunch items can be an area of profitability and success.

Pizza is known to be a favorite, but serving pizza over and over can become monotonous.  Instead, offer the same flavors in a fun calzone.  Substituting the typical meat fillings of pepperoni or sausage with beef is another great way to add some variation.  Beef is a great protein to use in calzones or on pizza because it goes with a wide variety of toppings.

One application of this concept is a Mini White Calzone, this features beef topping, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese as well as roasted red peppers, arugula aMiniWhiteCalzones v1nd caramelized onions.  This calzone is then brushed with garlic butter and served with a spicy marinara sauce.  This idea works in a school lunch application for a variety of reasons.  The mini size makes the calzone more approachable for younger consumers and is easily dipped in the marinara sauce.  The caramelized onions add a greater depth of flavor without being overpowering.  This is important in a school lunch offering because not all consumers desire a strong onion flavor.  The combination of cheese also offers a twist on a typical calzone, especially the ricotta which gives a delicious creaminess to the dish.  Finally, the beef offers a great savory flavor and compliments all of the other ingredients.

Another BeefedUpMozzSticks v1way to appeal consumers is to enhance a favorite. Mozzarella sticks are liked by many and making them even better with the addition of beef will make them loved by all.  One alternative version of mozzarella sticks is called Beefed-up Mozzarella Sticks.  This includes mozzarella cheese sticks and seasoned beef crumbles wrapped in a wonton wrapper and baked. They are served with a spicy marinara sauce.

With a few simple substitutions mozzarella sticks can be elevated to a new level.  Instead of simply breading and frying cheese, this version reduces fat and calrories by using wonton wrappers.  This allows for baking instead of frying but still gives the desired crispy and crunchy exterior.  The wonton wrapper also allows for the addition of the seasoned beef crumbles.  The beef adds additional protein and makes this dish much more than just an appetizer.   


For more information about Burke's Beef Toppings and to request a sample visit our website.

Tags: Innovation, Beef, Calzone

Spice Up Your Products with Burke's NEW Sriracha Sausage

Posted by Lauren Millen on Wed, Jul 09, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

Sriracha sauce is heating up products across the industry. Here are a few ideas on how to spice up your products with Burke's NEW Sriracha Sausage



Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potato – A sweet potato with Sriracha Sausage and a delicate garden-fresh mix of black beans, corns, diced tomatoes, green onion, chopped bell peppers, cilantro and lime. Sprinkle a  blend of Colby and Monterey jack cheese on the top and broil until cheese is slightly melted.  






 Sriracha Sausage Fried Rice - Spice up your classic  fried rice recipe with Sriracha Sausage and a tangy  peanut curry sauce made with  coconut milk, peanut  butter, curry paste, and seasonings to see if your  taste buds can handle the heat.  




Request a sample or contact one of Burke's Industrial Sales Managers to tell you more about Sriracha Sausage

Tags: 2014 trends, Fully Cooked Meats, Coarse-Ground Italian Sausage, Sausage

2014 Trends Seen at the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo

Posted by Lauren Millen on Mon, Jul 07, 2014 @ 16:07 PM

From June 21-24, food professionals gathered in New Orleans, LA for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo. IFT is an organization of over 16,000 members which connects the all aspects of the food community. At the expo, the latest innovations from ingredients to packaging and processing are featured. Seminars, student product development competition finals, and various award ceremonies are activities to attend while at the expo.  


Keynote Speaker discusses Food Waste, Hunger, and Obesity

Keynote speaker Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s, kicked off the seminars. He discussed the issues of hunger, obesity, and food waste in America. Rauch stated that the modern-day hunger is more than lacking calories, it’s lacking nutrients too. This is more apparent as you move down the economic scale. Low-income families are driven to buy unhealthier meals with higher calories, which can then contribute to obesity. In terms of food waste, an alarming number of consumers aren’t aware of the different between a “sell by” or “best by” date and end up throwing away consumable food. Rauch believes food scientists can play an imperative role in improving food labeling and packaging, extending shelf life stability, and developing nutritious food that is affordable and satisfying.


Hot Dialogue with GMOs

Hot Dialogue with GMOs discussed the various attitudes chefs, consumers, and industry professionals about genetically modified (GM) products. The first speaker, John Schonwald, has led numerous interview with chefs, and the general attitude towards genetically modified foods was fairly negative. Chefs prefer “local and handpicked” ingredients, contrasting from the “affordable, durable, and availability” of GM foods. The second speaker, John Ruff, stated that consumers attitudes are shifting to  believe GM products aren’t as bad as originally thought. When the floor opened up to audience members, educating chefs and citizens about GM products is essential for the future was the general consensus.


 Food Trends at the Expo

Innova Market Insights’ Taste the Trend celebrated its 10th anniversary at the expo. The number one trend was  titled “Waste Not, Want Not,” which complemented Doug Rauch’s presentation. Food manufactures are looking for ways to reduce food waste, such as single serving packing and publishing cookbooks that utilize leftovers. Another trend highlighted was the demand for protein, protein-derivatives and their applications. Alternative protein sources such as whey, nuts, seeds, and algae are gaining popularity as well. Savory flavors, ethnic food trucks, and Middle Eastern Cuisine also made the top 10 list.

A Mintel blog post reiterated the importance of the topics and trends discussed by the Rauch, Innova, and the numerous other companies represented. GMO-free and “clean” labels are on the radar of food companies, the FDA, and packaging designers. Other hot topics discussed were the use of pulse flours (dry, protein isolates) and using “whole food” flours in place of vegetable proteins. A blog posted by Food Dive also agreed that “clean labels” and protein derivatives were buzzing throughout the expo. The post also mentioned the innovations in packaging and the influence of social media on food companies and restaurants.


Final Thoughts

The food community is always evolving, and the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo is a place for professionals to share their innovations or gain inspiration. As industry and food service providers it’s a great opportunity to network and find out what trends are taking off.

IFT will celebrate its 75th conference in Chicago, IL July 11-14, 2015.


Click here to check out Burke’s 2014 Trend Report

Tags: 2014 trends, Industry Trends & Updates, Innovation, Tradeshows & Conferences

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