It may be time for restaurants searching for a premium new addition to menus to reconsider a classic menu favorite—veal. With so many poultry and traditional beef dishes holding places of prominence on menus, chefs can differentiate by exploring this consistently tender and under-explored protein. And with today’s humane sourcing practices and marketing changing the conversation about veal, makes for a strong contender on any menu.
“Veal typically appeals to the older generation, and a higher income demographic; however, we are also targeting millennials through positive social media and marketing tactics,” says Elissa Garling, head of marketing at Thomas Foods International USA supplying Royal Dutch Veal. “Since our calves are humanely group raised—never tethered and raised by certified farmers regularly audited by our animal welfare officers—we are trying to remove the negative stigma that encompasses veal and show it in a new light that will invite more people to try veal.”
Consumers today, especially millennials and Gen Z diners, care more about the origins of their food than ever before, and they want to know that protein products were sourced using humane raising methods. Menu callouts can be a great way to boost interest in a product. For example, Garling suggests listing “Royal Dutch Milk Fed Veal” on menus so that consumers can research the company and learn about how veal was produced.
What they will find is that Royal Dutch Veal comes from T. Boer, a leading veal producer from the Netherlands with over 100 years of experience. The brand’s calves originate from the VanDrie Group’s controlled integrated product chain to guarantee both full traceability and that calves are humanely raised, milk fed, and have not be raised with the use of growth hormones.
Today’s consumers may also be attracted by other benefits of veal. For starters, veal has fewer calories and fats than beef and lamb while still offering high levels of protein, making it a natural choice for health-conscious diners. Additionally, because it still has room to grow on menus, it offers a point of differentiation among restaurants.
In fact, Rene Marquis, executive chef, ACF Tampa Bay Chapter president, and master sergeant, retired, in the U.S. Army—one of the highest certified chefs that ever served in the military, says that veal stands out to his diners. “I use veal on my menus because people are tired of eating one-pound steaks, where I can serve them five to six ounces of veal and they are comfortably happy.” He also notes that using classic techniques, such as braising, can draw people in with nostalgic comfort while allowing chefs to explore under-used cuts of meat and modern plate presentations.
With so many menu opportunities to explore and guarantees of humane animal treatment, restaurants can feel confident that adding veal to the menu will help draw consumer attention. “The positive attributes of how our calves are being raised helps veal customers and first timers feel comfortable making the choice to choose veal,” Garling says. “Since our veal is raised by certified farmers, committed to ethical welfare practices, and milk fed veal consistently delivers a premium quality, this category of meat has found its way back on our dinner plates both at home and on menus.”