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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 09-16-2013, 09:32 PM   #1
HBMTN
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Default Spares vs Baby's

I have always vended spares and prices had gotten so high that I quit unless someone pre-ordered them. I recently got set up through a food supplier that is giving me a better price than I have ever had locally. I used to trim spare to a St Louis cut and sell the tips separate but I found that once you sold the slab your profit did not come until the tips were sold. So lately I have been cooking and selling the whole spares.

So I am wondering if Baby Backs sell better. I would need to be around $24 for a full rack of Baby Backs and $28 on Whole Spares and I can dang near cook 2 slabs of Baby Backs in the space of one rack of spares but I have never tried to sell Baby Backs. For me I would want the spares, way more meat and flavor for dang near the same price. What do you sell?
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Unread 09-16-2013, 10:01 PM   #2
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I was going over our new catering menu with the wife just this afternoon. I only had St. Louis spares listed as I can usually get them pre trimmed at a decent price, and that is all we have ever offered. she asked me to consider baby backs as that is what is popular out here. Thinking back over the last 10 years, I guess that is what all of my friends have cooked when they said they were doing ribs. Most of them don't know what a St Louis cut is. I am with you, I would rather have the spares for the extra meat if I am buying a rib for me to eat. But we are not cooking for us, we are cooking for what the public wants. If they are willing to pay what you are asking for the baby backs, then by all means cook and sell 'em.

Re-reading your first line brings a little different light, you vend, we cater. Well, we have done some vending, but only pulled pork. Do a test run, one rack of each and just advertize ribs. When someone wants a rib, ask baby or spare, see which sells out first. Out here they would look at me and ask what the difference was.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 06:47 AM   #3
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Good idea (trial run, ask). However, if you're in VA, SC, NC, TN, AL, GA, MS, LA, etc. I'll bet you'll get 2 to 1 (or more) requests for the BB's. Most people wouldn't know the difference, but BB's have been marketed as being better, so they'll follow the pack. The few who know the difference will be about a 50/50 split.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 07:45 AM   #4
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People around here assume baby backs when you say ribs.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 08:34 AM   #5
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I believe you will find that this issue will be somewhat determined by your locale/region. In our area people assume BB's when they see Ribs on a menu (catered or vending). We have tried StLS in both venues and our customers prefer the BB's.

The other side of the coin (yes pun intended) is pricing. We find that BB's are a better margin item due to less prep. They take less time due to not having to trim the tips & sell them separate and we can fit more BB's in our BWS Competitor than we can StLS's. If we try to sell the whole StLS rack the price is higher than the BB's and the customer goes for the lower price (and what is their perception of a better cut of meat).

I would agree with midniteryder. Your best bet is to do a test run and see what your customers will go for.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 10:10 AM   #6
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Like others have said, it's going to depend a lot on where you are, what your customers expect, and the pricing you get on your ribs.

Ribs are certainly one of my lowest margin items. After running the numbers I've bailed on baby backs. A 1/2 rack st. louis rib meal (ribs and two sides) runs with a total food cost of about 33%. But that is assuming all the tips are discarded as waste and not used. Since people up here in the midwest are big on rib tips, those don't get wasted and can get sold at a relative premium, which in turn brings the overall food costs well under 30% as a whole.

Baby backs on the other hand, cost on average, at least a dollar a pound more around here. So even though they require less prep and there's no trim waste, a 1/2 rack BB meal runs about 28-29%. And since there's no tips to repurpose, it's kind of a wash.

So, YMMV, but all you can do is try and see what the customers think.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 11:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake Dogs View Post
Good idea (trial run, ask). However, if you're in VA, SC, NC, TN, AL, GA, MS, LA, etc. I'll bet you'll get 2 to 1 (or more) requests for the BB's.

You are correct, in fact most probably don't even know there is anything but a baby back. I guess it's just hard for me to look at the difference in the amount of meat that you get and pay the price for it. We are getting ready to have a 5 week run on festival vending so I think I am going to do the baby backs and see how it goes. Thanks
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Unread 09-17-2013, 03:21 PM   #8
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I actually think most people think Baby Backs are from a young pig; therefore, are more tender and desirable. Great marketing job.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 03:39 PM   #9
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Another plus for Baby Backs is they take less time to cook so you can move them through your smoker faster...
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Unread 09-18-2013, 06:36 PM   #10
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Here in TN we sell about equal number of BB and spare's. At end of day we debone the ribs, portion 4 oz. and freeze. Sell rib sammies for six bucks and get 6 or 7 portions per BB and up to 10 on spares. Much better margin on sammies.
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Unread 09-18-2013, 08:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OL' Timer View Post
Here in TN we sell about equal number of BB and spare's. At end of day we debone the ribs, portion 4 oz. and freeze. Sell rib sammies for six bucks and get 6 or 7 portions per BB and up to 10 on spares. Much better margin on sammies.

Great Idea!!! We will have to try that!
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