Darden Restaurants Says Beef Costs Will Climb 12% in Fiscal 2013

Darden Restaurants Inc., operator of the Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse chains, said beef costs may climb 12 percent during the fiscal year that starts May 28.

The meat will be the “primary driver of increased costs,” Orlando, Florida-based Darden said today in a slideshow presentation for an analyst meeting. Seafood costs may drop 3 percent, while chicken rises 2 percent, the company said. Seafood accounts for 31 percent of Darden’s food costs, followed by beef at 14 percent and chicken at 5 percent.

While dairy prices will be stable, wheat, flour and pasta costs may decline 2 percent, and produce expenses will increase 1 percent, the restaurant chain said. Costs for all commodities and energy will be flat, Darden said.

Food and beverage inflation is forecast at 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent, according to the presentation. That’s down from an estimated 6.1 percent increase in the current fiscal year, which ends May 27, Darden said.

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