# Need Help With Chicken Pricing

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by raibeaux, Jun 5, 2013.

1. ### raibeaux

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Hi.  Been trying forever to figure out how to price (find the cost of each piece) fried chicken.  Can't seem to do it.  My prices always come out too high.

Today I tried a suggestion that didn't work out too well:  I was told to figure the each cost for a case of breasts, wings, legs and thighs.

The problem is that I think with ordering like that, the prices are going to be too high, rather than figuring it out by using the cost of the 8-Pc. cut case I'm buying.

So, if I'm using a 16-Hd case of 8-Pc. cut at 1.28 per lb.  How would you figure the per piece cost, not counting breading, of the breasts, wings, thighs, and legs?

Jeez, I hope one of you can figure this out.  I've heard there's a way to do it by percentage of weight of each piece, but damned if I can figure out how to do it.

Thanks much if you can help.  Lord knows I need it.

2. ### cacioepepe

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I dont understand your case size.  Are you buying a case with 16 whole chickens in it, that are cut up in 8 pieces each?

3. ### raibeaux

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Actually, yes.  The 16-Hd. 8- Pc. cut case contains the equivalent number of cut up chicken pieces to 16 whole chickens.  The 16 head cases use smaller chickens than 14-Hd. cases or 12-Hd. cases, etc.  As in 32 wings, 32 breasts, 32 thighs, and 32 drumsticks.  128 pieces in all.

Case weight is around 48 pounds.

Here's what I figured this morning, using \$1.28 per pound:  I think it may be right.  The percentages are what I figured for the percentage of each piece to the total weight of a 3# chicken.

CHICKEN PRICES-Case Price, 16-Hd.  8-Pc. Cut

@ \$1.28 per pound ( \$3.84 per 3# Chicken ) June 5th, 2013

Small Wings

.35 cents each                4-5 per lb.              9.1%

Small Drumsticks

.23 cents each                 4-5 per lb.              5.9%

Small Thighs

.39.2 cents each              7.7 oz. each          10.2%

Small Split Breasts

.96 each                           9.5 oz. each          25.0%

8-Pcs. = 4.62 If Bought By Single-Piece Cases

*8-Pc. Cut = 1.28/#  X3# = 3.84

WITH BREADING, MARINATE AND BATTER DIP FIGURED IN:

5-CENTS EA.PC. FOR COMBINED MARINATE & BATTER DIP

Small Wings                                .45

Small Drums                              .33

Small Thighs                              .49.2

Small Breasts                            1.06

4. ### gsuchef

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Where did you get the percentages from? I'm not understanding that part of your math.

But what I do to calculate the cost of cut chicken is weigh a sample of 10 pieces each, take the average for the drums, wings, thighs, and breast. That average will be your weight for each piece.

For example:

1 drum is averaging out at 3.5 oz.

Take your purchased price  \$1.28/lbs and break it down into  \$0.08/oz (\$1.28/16oz) -> 3.5oz x \$0.08/oz=\$0.28

So cost of 1 Chicken drum is \$0.28/ea.

Hope this helps.

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5. ### raibeaux

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I used the higher individual-piece case prices just to give me a baseline.   I got the price of each piece individually.

I then added the individual pieces to get the cost of 8 pieces.  Then I think I went in reverse.

For example, the way it turned out, the chicken wing is 9.1% of the price (3.84) of the whole chicken (the 8 pieces).  Or .34944 cents.

The breast is 25% of the price, or .96 cents.  Etc.

And so on.

Best way to tell you how I figured it is this.  It was very, very late at night.  I had been ciphering on this thing for hours.  If my head ever clears I will get back with you with the complete method.  If I ever remember it exactly.

Don't know exactly how, but it seems to have worked.  I think the difference between how you do it and this may be that I was using the 3.84 of the whole 8 pieces and you were doing (I think) the same thing except using price per pound.  I think it works out the same, but now I genuinely have no idea what I'm talking about.  And this is after a reasonably good night's sleep.

You ever do this?  I'm getting worse the older I get.

Please reply again.  I don't want to be left hanging in the primordial soup.

6. ### cacioepepe

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I'm vexed by all this math.  I mean, if you're just interested in figuring out a straight food cost for a portion of chicken that you are going to sell (which looks like its a whole chicken anyway) who cares what the wing or breast cost?  I could understand if you were selling baskets of just thighs, or wings, etc.  In this case it looks like a portion will cost you 3.84 plus, say, 10 cents for breading?  That means your cost per portion is 3.94.

From there you just need to determine your desired food cost percentage. Take 3.94 and divide it by your desired food cost, in decimal form.

3.94 ÷ .20 (for a 20% food cost) = 19.7

You then can sell your chicken for \$19.70

7. ### brandon odell

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I agree that trying to figure everything out down to the different pieces of chicken is a waste of time. You need to know what the cost per serving is, so you have to start with the serving size. Is it 2 pieces, 3 pieces or 4 pieces?

If you case is 48 lbs at \$1.28 per lb, then your total case price is \$61.44.

From there, you should be creating a batch recipe and a plate recipe. The batch recipe helps you calculate the cost of the chicken portion of the plate. The plate recipe adds in your sides, bread, condiments, and Q factor (intangibles like fry oil, garnish, etc that have to be added to every plate recipe).

For your batch recipe, calculate the cost of frying a whole case of chicken IF you usually thaw and fry it by the case. This is much easier, and more accurate, than trying to calculate the cost of breading and seasonings for each individual piece. More importantly, you'll be including the cost of the breading and seasoning that gets wasted, which you have to recover money for also.

The batch recipe might include \$61.44 for chicken, \$2.50 for flour and \$2.50 for seasoning, giving you a batch recipe cost of \$66.44. Next, you need to calculate the yield for your batch. You can express this in "pieces" or "portions" (3 pieces for a 3 piece plate). If you only have one serving size, I suggest calculating a "portion" cost. If you have more than one size chicken dinner, calculate your yield in pieces.

To do it by pieces, just divide your batch recipe cost (\$66.44) by the pieces per case (12. You'll get a cost per piece of roughly \$.52 per piece.

Now you have to build a plate recipe. Add in the cost of everything included in the dinner, like cole slaw, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuit, etc. All these items should also have a batch recipe with a yield that shows how much they cost per serving portion or per fluid ounce. The serving cost goes on the plate recipe. Each plate cost should also include the Q factor which covers the cost of all condiments, cooking oils, etc. The only way to accurately figure a Q factor is to add up the total cost of all these items over a period, then divide that cost by the total number of plates served during that period. This gives you a cost per plate of all those items included in the calculation. Then, you can simply add in that amount to every plate recipe.

For pricing, please do not use your budgeted food cost percentage to calculate what you should sell the dinner for. Food cost percentages should only be used for managing, not for pricing. For pricing, you must consider every cost of doing business, and you must consider what your competition is selling comparable products for. Dividing by some arbitrary percentage to come up with a price does nothing to guarantee you'll collect enough dollars to pay for staff, rent, insurance, electricity, linens, chemicals and profit, which together can make up 55-80% of your total expenses. Considering only 20-45% of the cost of business (food cost) to calculate a sale price can lead you to underprice or overprice. You also can't expect to run the same cost percentage on all menu items. Some, you'll have to sell at a lower cost to compete, and some can earn you more profit while selling at a much higher cost percentage. For example, would you rather sell a hamburger that cost \$2 and sells for \$8, or a lobster that costs \$20 and sells for \$40? One earns \$6 in gross profit and the other \$20 in gross profit. There is going to be a lot more left of the sale of the second item after you pay all your expenses than the first item.

8. ### cheflayne

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Your budget (food cost being a part of it) should never be arbitrary, it is the foundation upon which business is built and the device by which you make adjustments to insure that the business survives. If your budget does not take into account collecting enough dollars to pay for staff, rent, insurance, electricity, linens, chemicals, and profit, then your budget writing skills and business acumen need some fine tuning without a doubt. The horse being placed before the cart is historically the most efficient use of the tools at your disposal.

Last edited: Jun 8, 2013
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9. ### raibeaux

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"To do it by pieces, just divide your batch recipe cost (\$66.44) by the pieces per case (12. You'll get a cost per piece of roughly \$.52 per piece."

If I were only selling the same piece or combination of pieces of chicken on every plate (wing, breast, etc) this would work.  But I can't see this if you're selling different piece choices.  Such as:

2-Pc. Dark (Leg and Thigh)

2-Pc. White (Breast and Wing)

3-Pc. Dark (2-Thighs, 1-Leg)

3-Pc. White (1-Breast, 2-Wings)

4-Pc. Mixed (1 of each piece)

4-Pc. White (2-Breasts, 2-Wings)    **(For all breasts, add \$ X.XX)

4-Pc. Dark (2-Thighs, 2-Legs)

3-Pc. Wings

1-Breast

1-Wing

1-Thigh

1-Leg

It seems that it would either overcharge for the lighter weight pieces (ex. Wing or Leg vs. Breast) or undercharge for the heavier pieces (ex. 2 Breasts)

If all plates contained the same number of pieces as well as the same pieces (leg, wing, thigh, breast)  I can see that working.

Or if every customer ordered the same combination I can see that working, particularly if those were the only pieces I ordered.

The kicker in all this is that customers don't order or like the same pieces of chicken.  In my area more breasts are sold than legs,

etc.

Also, if the chicken is sold as "chicken-only" with no side orders, you would be charging the same for that 3.5-4-ounce leg as the 8-10-ounce breast.

So I don't see how I can sell a 8-10-oz. breast for the same price as a 3.5-4-ounce leg, which simply using .52 per piece would seem to do.

Where am I off?  The only way I can figure out how to do it is to figure the cost of each piece relative to the cost of the whole bird, whether it be an 8-pc. cut or a whole bird that I cut up.

By the way, thanks for the input folks.  I appreciate it.

10. ### cacioepepe

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Again, weight is the way to go. Just measure the ounces of each of your combinations (wing, thigh, breast. Breast, 2 wings, etc.) and use that as a base cost. The beauty, and unfortunate reality, is that this is just a guideline. Your chicken size will vary, legs will vary from one to the next. Don't mess with costing each piece. As for food cost %, again a guideline. other factors are important such as perceived value and competition pricing. You might find that yo'll be able to have a better cost on the more popular breast piece combos than the leg, since there is a better perception of value.

Last edited: Jun 8, 2013
11. ### michaelga

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While the math will work to a degree - you'll be pulling your hair out if your business really takes off.

Every place will eventually start selling way more of one piece than all the others.  For you it sounds likely it will be chicken breasts.

When that time comes - you'll not be able to buy the mixed cases like you do now.

Best bet would be to get the prices for cases of only legs / thighs / breasts / wings etc. and base your prices off of those (yes they will be higher likely)

Remember costing is based on what you pay - pricing is based on what people will pay you.

Chicken breasts (at least around here) have always commanded a premium - people generally don't pay with xx per ounce in mind at a restaurant.

They pay for a meal that is satisfying and meets their budget.

Personally if you're not locked into it I'd lesson the choices that people have to make.  (too many choices and when it gets busy it will be a PITA)

2pc dinner

3pc dinner

4pc dinner

xx extra for all white meat

ps- around here the wing isn't considered white meat... I guess if  you're doing a french cut where part of the breast is attached it would fly (pardon the pun)

Last edited: Jun 8, 2013
12. ### petemccracken

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13. ### brandon odell

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I think your issue is coming from your menu, not your pricing structure. That's too many choices just for chicken. It's too much for people to look at, probably slows down the ordering process resulting in slower table turnover, and it probably eats up too much of your menu real estate. All three of these can hurt volume and profitability. You aren't winning more fans by giving so many choices, you are leaving money on the table. The worst part is what you are experiencing now. Too many choices are making it very difficult to manage your menu by properly calculating costs. Costing out fried chicken is not difficult unless your menu makes it difficult.

Here's how I've always done chicken in the past.

Two choices:

2 piece dinner

3 piece dinner

That's it. There is one price for each and an upcharge if someone requests more than one breast on a plate. The customer is asked if they want white, dark or mixed, and there might be a choice of sides, maybe not. There is no "chicken only" pricing. A meal costs what a meal costs and its up to the customer to decide what to do with the sides they pay for. They aren't asked exactly what pieces they want because you would have a ton of leftover wings. If they request certain pieces, they are happily accommodated, with a possible extra charge if they are requesting more than one breast. The upcharge for extra breasts makes sure you use up those wings and don't have to buy too many breast only cases.

Customers understand that there are four different pieces on a chicken and that you have to sell them all. Most don't specify what pieces they want unless you train them to do so, which you probably already have by listing so many choices on the menu. They can be untrained over time though.

Here's an example of a perfect fried chicken menu, from my favorite fried chicken restaurant, The Brookville Hotel in Abilene, KS.

They offer one meal, one price. You get half a chicken. You don't get to pick what pieces you get and you don't get to pick the sides. One dinner. One price. If there is too much food (and there always is) you take it home. They have approximately 400 seats in their restaurant and they turn the tables 3 to 4 times on a Saturday in the Summer.

Now, this is an extreme example because most restaurants can't get 1000+ covers a day with a one item menu, but it is a great ideal and something to work toward.

14. ### cheflayne

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your costing is a bit off, the actual breakdown, using the weights that you provided, would be

cost of each wing = .28 (not .35)

cost of each drumstick= .28 (not .23)

cost of each thigh= .61 (not .39)

cost of each breast= .75 (not .96)

8-Pcs. = 3.84 if bought by single piece

8-Pcs Cut = 1.28/# x3# = 3.84

Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
15. ### ed buchanan

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weigh the total chicken   times it by price per pound, then by ounce .Now cut up the bird into whatever size pieces you want. weigh the piece if its 3 ounces its 3 x price per ounce

16. ### brandon odell

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In menu costing, the reason "cost per ounce" are used, especially with meats, is to come up with a "common denominator" you can use to cost out every recipe that uses that ingredient. There is no reason to break a cost down into a unit that is smaller than you have to in order to accurately cost out an ingredient.

When you break ingredients into "cost per ounce", you then have to start factoring shrinkage somewhere into your costing because those pieces are going to shed some water weight. There's water in the bottom of the bag that won't get weighed with the pieces and those pieces will lose more water weight the more they sit. You paid \$1.28/lb for that water too and you need to charge for it. The lowest common denominator for whole chicken is the "piece". If your menu is set up efficiently, there is no reason to break costs down past the "cost per portion" for anything that is pre-portioned, like chicken pieces. Your current effort to find the cost per pieces is on the right line. If you cost by the portion, your menu costing will be much, much easier and you'll eliminate the need to factor in shrinkage due to water loss, etc, and you'll recover every penny from that case, including any water dripped on the counter, on the floor or down the sink.

One thing I didn't cover in my earlier reply was adding a 5% yield adjustment to every ingredient cost OR recipe OR to your Q factor. This is your buffer for the inevitability of the occasional dropped ingredient or overcooked plate. It doesn't negate the importance of tracking waste (another conversation), but it does help make sure you are charging for it.

Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
17. ### cacioepepe

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This is turning ridiculous....

18. ### chefrob69

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^ absolutely second this

19. ### petemccracken

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From http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=12

Based on an average carcass weight of 10 chickens of 1.512 Kg (3 1/3 pounds), skin on with bone
• 2 half breasts = 620g or 41%
• 2 drumsticks = 250g or 17%
• 2 thighs = 464g or 31%
• 2 wings = 178g or 12%
Using the price of \$1,28/pound (\$2.82/Kg), the AVERAGE cost per piece (skin on, bone in) would be:
• 1/2 breast = 0.310Kg X \$2.82/Kg = \$0.87
• 1 drumstick = 0.125Kg X \$2.82/Kg = \$0.35
• 1 thigh = 0.232Kg X \$2.82/Kg = \$0.65
• 1 wing = .089Kg X \$2.82/Kg = \$0.25
• Total = \$2.12/half chicken or \$4.24/chicken
From the above, the chicken cost for your menu items would be, on AVERAGE:

• 2-Pc. Dark (Leg and Thigh) = \$0.35 + \$0.65 = \$1.00

• 2-Pc. White (Breast and Wing) = \$0.87 + \$0.25 = \$1.12

• 3-Pc. Dark (2-Thighs, 1-Leg) = \$0.65 + \$0.65 + \$0.35 = \$1.65

• 3-Pc. White (1-Breast, 2-Wings) = \$0.87 + \$0.25 + \$0.25 = \$1.37

• 4-Pc. Mixed (1 of each piece) = \$0.87 + \$0.35 + \$0.65 + \$0.25 = \$2.12

• 4-Pc. White (2-Breasts, 2-Wings)  = \$0.87 + \$0.25 + \$0.87 + \$0.25 = \$2.24

• 4-Pc. Dark (2-Thighs, 2-Legs) = \$0.35 + \$0.65 + \$0.35 + \$0.65 = \$2.00

• 3-Pc. Wings = 3 X \$0.25 = \$0.75

• 1-Breast = \$0.87

• 1-Wing = \$0.25

• 1-Thigh = \$0.65

• 1-Leg = \$0.35
Have fun!

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