Britain’s menus reflect changing nature of eating out

Eating out operators are continuing to adapt to the changing demands of consumers with menus featuring more hand-held, easy-to-eat foods as Britons plump for casual dining over formal occasions.

The latest research, undertaken by foodservice consultancy Horizons, shows while burgers are still the nation’s number one main course dish, their popularity has peaked. Some 17% fewer dishes on menus featured burgers compared with last year while hot dogs continue to become ever-popular, appearing on 86% more menus than they did this time last year, with pork ribs the second biggest riser at 15%.

American-themed dishes continue to gain popularity with the provenance of dishes now referred to on menus. Examples include Chicken Louisiana Skins and New Yorker Crunchy Salad at Frankie and Benny’s, New Yorker on Rye at Pret A Manger and Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Denver Fries at Best Western.

Salted caramel is one of the newest flavour combinations to feature on menus. Non-existent in Summer 2010, salted caramel now appears in 37 dishes,

growing 12% in popularity year-on-year.

One of this year’s favourite cuts of meat has been the little-known flat iron steak, which can now be seen on 17 menus including those of Beefeater and Scream. The steak, a cheaper cut, is taken from the shoulder of the animal.

“We are seeing a high level of innovation on menus,” commented report author Nicola Knight, Horizons’ director of services. “Many of the ideas are coming from the US, but street food and ethnic flavours are also influencing menus. Operators are also working hard at providing customers with something new, often by putting a twist on old favourites.”

Top six Menurama findings

1. Burgers are still the most frequently found dish

on menus, although their popularity has peaked

2. Japanese Katsu dishes, Middle Eastern flavours and Korean foods are appearing on mainstream menus

3. Presentation is becoming more innovative with food served on ‘planks’ or ‘trash can lids’ echoing street food

4. Meal deal promotions are becoming less frequent

5. Free-from dishes have risen 9% since summer 2013

6. Sharing dishes such as sliders are a firm favourite

on casual dining menus, up 64% since summer 2013


>> UK alcohol consumption fell again in 2013, to the lowest level

this century – according to the British Beer & Pub Association’s Statistical Handbook 2014.

In 2013, alcohol consumption per capita was down 1.7% on 2012 and the new handbook shows a strong downward trend in consumption in the past decade, with per capita consumption down a substantial 18.1% since 2004. The UK’s consumption of alcohol is lower than the EU average – 25% less than Germany and 15% less than France.

Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, comments: “It’s great to see trends in alcohol harms coming down, showing that investment by the industry and partnership with Government, through targeted measures, is having a positive impact. There are certainly positives for beer in the data, with greater beer choice for beer drinkers than ever before. But despite the recent cuts in beer duty, Britain’s consumers are still subject to some of the highest tax rates for beer in the EU. Let’s hope we see another tax cut next year.”