12 Yield Testing

Yield in culinary terms refers to how much you will have of a finished or processed product. Professional recipes should always state a yield; for example, a tomato soup recipe may yield 15 L, and a muffin recipe may yield 24 muffins. Yield can also refer to the amount of usable product after it has been processed (peeled, cooked, butchered, etc.)

For example, you may be preparing a recipe for carrot soup. The recipe requires 1 kg of carrots, which you purchase. However, once you have peeled them and removed the tops and tips, you may only have 800 grams of carrots left to use.

In order to do accurate costing, yield testing must be carried out on all ingredients and recipes. When looking at yields, you must always consider the losses and waste involved in preparation and cooking. There is always a dollar value that is attached to vegetable peel, meat and fish trim, and packaging like brines and syrups. Any waste or loss has been paid for and is still money that has been spent. This cost must always be included in the menu price.

Note: Sometimes, this “waste” can be used as a by-product. Bones from meat and fish can be turned into stocks. Trimmings from vegetables can be added to those stocks or, if there is enough, made into soup.

All products must be measured and yield tested before costing a menu. Ideally, every item on a menu should be yield tested before being processed. Most big establishments will have this information on file, and there are many books that can also be used as reference for yields, such as The Book of Yields: Accuracy in Food Costing and Purchasing.

Example 12: The procedure for testing yields

  1. Record the original weight/volume of your item. This is your raw weight or as purchased (AP) weight.
    1. Whole tenderloin – 2.5 kg
    2. Whole sockeye salmon – 7.75 kg
    3. Canned tuna flakes in brine – 750 mL
  2. Process your product accordingly, measure and record the waste or trim weight.
    1. Tenderloin fat, sinew, chain, etc. – 750 g tenderloin trim
    2. Salmon head, bones, skin, etc. – 2.75 kg salmon trim
    3. Brine – 300 mL canned tuna waste
  3. Subtract the amount of trim weight from the AP weight and you will have what is referred to as your processed or edible product (EP) weight. The formula is: AP weight – waste = EP weight.
    1. 2500 g − 750 g = 1750 g processed tenderloin
    2. 7750 g − 2750 g = 5000 g processed salmon
    3. 750 mL − 300 mL = 400 mL processed canned tuna
  4. Get your yield percentage by converting the edible product weight into a percentage. The formula is EP weight ÷ AP weight × 100 = yield %.
    1. (1750 ÷ 2500) × 100 = 70% for the tenderloin
    2. (5000 ÷ 7750) × 100 = 64.51% for the salmon
    3. (400 ÷ 750) × 100 = 53.33% for the canned tuna

Yield percentage is important because it tells you several things: how much usable product you will have after processing; how much raw product to actually order; and the actual cost of the product per dollar spent.

Using Yield to Calculate Food Costs

Once you have your yield percentage, you can translate this information into monetary units. Considering the losses incurred from trimmings and waste, your actual cost for your processed ingredient has gone up from what you originally paid, which was your raw cost or AP cost. These calculations will provide you with your processed cost or EP cost.

Example 13: The procedure for determining EP cost
  1. Record the AP cost, what you paid for the item:
    1. Whole tenderloin – $23.00/kg
    2. Whole sockeye salmon – $5.00/kg
    3. Canned tuna flakes in brine – $5.50/750 mL can
  2. Obtain your factor. This factor converts all your calculations into percentages. The formula is:
    1. 100 ÷ yield % = factor
    2. 100 ÷ 70 tenderloin = 1.42
    3. 100 ÷ 64.51 salmon = 1.55
    4. 100 ÷ 53.33 canned tuna = 1.875
  3. Once the factor has been determined, it is now an easy process to determine your EP cost. The formula is: factor × as purchased cost per (unit) = edible product cost per (unit)
    1. Tenderloin $23.00 × 1.42 = $32.66/kg
    2. Salmon $5.00 × 1.55 = $7.75/kg
    3. Canned tuna $5.50 × 1.875 = $10.78/750 mL

There could be a considerable difference in costs between the raw product and the processed product, which is why it is important to go through all these steps. Once the EP cost is determined, the menu price can be set.

Yield Tests and Percentages

Meat and seafood products tend to be the most expensive part of the menu. They also have significant amounts of waste, which must be accounted for when determining standard portion cost.

When meat is delivered, unless it has been purchased precut, it must be trimmed and cut into portions. The losses due to trimming and cutting must be accounted for in the portion cost of the meat. For example, if a 5 kg roast costing $8 a kilogram (total cost is $40) is trimmed of fat and sinew and then weighs 4 kg, the cost of usable meat (the EP cost), basically, has risen from $8 a kilogram to $10 a kilogram ($40 ÷ 4 kg). The actual determination of portion cost is found by conducting a meat cutting yield test.

The test is conducted by the person who breaks down or trims the wholesale cut while keeping track of the weight of the parts. The information is placed in columns on a chart, as shown in Figure 12. The column names and their functions are discussed below.

Figure 12: Meat Cutting Yield Test

Item: Pork Loin – Grade A-1


Meat cutting yield test
Part of the meat Weight % of total Value per kg Total value Cost factor EP cost (per kg) Portion size Portion cost
Whole piece (AP) 2.5 kg $12.14 $30.35
Fat and gristle 850 g 34% $0.20 $0.17
Loss in cutting 100 g 4% 0
Trim 250 g 10% $7.49 $1.87
Usable meat 1300 g 52% $28.31 1.79 $21.78 250 g $5.45

The parts of the meat are listed on the yield test sheet under the heading “Breakdown.” In the example in Figure 12, a pork loin has been broken down into fat and gristle, loss in cutting, trim, and usable meat. Various measures and calculations are then recorded in the different columns:

  • Weight: Next to the breakdown column the weights of the individual parts are listed.
  • Percentage of total weight: The third column contains the percentage of the original piece by weight. The column is headed “% of total weight,” which reminds us how to calculate the percentages. That is,

% of total weight = weight of part ÷ total weight

For example, in Figure 12, the fat and gristle weighs 850 g (or 0.850 kg). The total weight of the pork loin before trimming is 2.5 kg.

Example 14: Percentage of fat and gristle equation

% of fat and gristle = weight of part ÷ total weight

= 0.850 kg ÷ 2.5 kg

= 0.34

= 34%

Using the same procedure, you can calculate:

% of loss in cutting = 0.100 kg ÷ 2.5 kg

= 0.04

= 4%

% of trim = 0.250 kg ÷ 2.5 kg

= 0.1

= 10%

% of usable meat = 1.300 kg ÷ 2.5 kg

= 0.52

= 52%

Note: The percentage of usable meat is an important concept. It is often referred to as the yield percentage or yield factor. It will be looked at in some detail later in this chapter.
  • Value per kg: This column of Figure 12 lists the value of the parts per unit of weight. These values are based on what it would cost to purchase similar products from a butcher shop. The tidbits are quite valuable although they are too small to be used as medallions. They might be used, however, in stews or soups. Notice that no value is given to any weight lost in cutting.
  • Total value: This is determined by multiplying the value per kg column by the weight column. This has to be done carefully as the units must match. For example, the temptation is to simply multiply the weight of the fat and gristle (850 g) by $0.20 and get $170 instead of converting the grams into kilograms (850 g = 0.850 kg) and then multiplying to give the actual value of $0.17.

The entry for the “Usable Meat” in the total value column is determined by subtracting the value of the breakdown parts from the total cost of the pork loin ($30.35). The total cost is found by multiplying the weight of the whole piece (2.5 kg) by the value per kg ($12.14).

Example 15: The total value of usable meat equation

total value of usable meat = total cost – total value of breakdown parts

= $30.35 − ($0.17 + $1.87)

= $30.35 − (2.04)

= $28.31

  • Cost of usable kg (or EP cost): cost of usable kilogram is determined by dividing the total value of the usable meat by the weight of the usable meat as measured in kilograms (see below).

Example 16: Cost of usable kg (or EP cost) equation

cost per usable kg = total value of usable meat ÷ kg weight of usable meat

= $28.31 ÷ 1.3 kg (remember 1300 g = 1.3 kg)

= $21.78

Notice the difference between the wholesale cost ($12.14 kg) and the cost of usable meat ($21.78). This difference shows why the basic formula for determining standard portion costs will not work with meat.

  • Portion size and portion cost: The last two columns in Figure 12 show portion size and portion cost. Portion size is determined by management; in this example, individual portions of the pork loin weigh 250 g (or 0.250 kg).

Example 17: The portion cost is determined by multiplying the cost of a usable kg by the portion size.

That is,

portion cost = portion size × cost of usable kg

Using the correct units is very important. The portion size should be converted into kilograms as the cost per usable kg has been found.

Example 18: Portion size equation

portion cost = portion size × cost of usable kg

= 0.250 kg × $21.78/kg

= $5.44

  • Cost factor: If the price of pork loin changes, the monetary values entered on the meat cutting yield sheet become invalid. This column in Figure 12 attempts to reduce the chance that all this work is suddenly for naught. The cost factor will probably not change drastically but the wholesale cost of purchasing the meat might. By having a cost factor on hand, you can quickly apply it to the wholesale price of the purchased product and determine what an appropriate selling price should be. The cost factor per kilogram is determined by dividing the cost per usable kg by the original cost per kilogram (see below).

Example 19: Cost factor equation

cost factor per kg = cost per usable kg ÷ original cost per kg

In this example,

cost factor per kg = cost per usable kg ÷ original cost per kg

= $21.78 ÷ $12.14

= 1.79

This cost factor can be used to find the cost of a usable kg if the wholesale cost changes with the following formula.

Example 20: Finding the cost of usable kg if wholesale cost changes

new cost of usable kg = cost factor per kg × new wholesale cost

For example, if the cost of pork loin should rise to $13.00 a kilogram from the $12.14 per kilogram given on the cutting yield test sheet, the new cost per usable kg can be quickly calculated:

new cost of usable kg = cost factor per kg × new wholesale cost

= 1.79 × $13.00

= $23.27

Notice the size of the increase is in usable kg cost. The wholesale cost rose by ($13.00 − $12.14) $0.86 a kg, but the new cost of usable meat rose by $1.49 a kg.

Example 21: Cost factor per portion equation

The cost factor per portion is found by multiplying the portion size by the cost factor per kilogram. In this example,

cost factor per portion = portion size × cost factor per kg

= 0.250 kg × 1.79

= 0.45

The cost factor per portion is important because it can be used to find the cost per portion from the wholesale cost of meat. This is done by multiplying the two quantities. For example, if the wholesale price of pork loin should rise to $13.00 a kg, the portion cost will become:

new portion cost = cost factor per portion × new wholesale cost

= 0.45 × $13.00

= $5.85

The cost factor per kilogram and the cost factor per portion are the most important entries on a meat cutting yield test as they can be used to adjust to changing wholesale costs.

Today, the meat cutting yield test is losing some of its popularity because of the introduction of pre-portioned meats. But there remain several benefits to performing meat cutting tests:

  • Exact costs are determined so menu pricing can be more accurate.
  • Tests done periodically verify that the meat wholesaler is providing meat to stipulated specifications. If the amount of trim and waste rises, so do food costs.
  • By comparing the results from two or more wholesalers who have provided the same sample cuts, a critical evaluation can be done to determine which one is supplying the better meat.
  • Comparing yields between people doing the cutting will tell you who is being the most efficient.
  • Since individual pieces of meat or fish may vary slightly, doing yield tests on several of the same item and taking an average will give you the best idea of your standard yield.


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Basic Kitchen and Food Service Management Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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