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Thu 25th Feb 2016 - Horizons – reinvention of macaroni cheese is success for Britain’s eating out sector
Horizons – reinvention of macaroni cheese is success for Britain’s eating out sector: The popularity of humble macaroni cheese continues with mac ‘n’ cheese clocking growth of over 550% on British restaurant menus since 2010, according to foodservice expert Horizons. Its latest Menu Trends survey, which tracks the menu changes of 120 high street restaurants, pubs, quick service outlets and hotels, revealed mac ‘n’ cheese has become a firm favourite loved by both consumers and restaurant operators who can add simple twists to the classic dish with the addition of a range of ingredients or crunchy toppings for a relatively low price. The dish is also being served in restaurants in a variety of ways such as inside a burger or calzone or as a side dish. Horizons’ analyst Nicola Knight said: “Macaroni cheese was once a cheap, comfort food for home cooking but has now become a favourite on menus. It’s a huge success story for restaurants and pubs and shows that chefs have returned to some of our old favourites by giving them a new twist with modern ingredients. Macaroni cheese featured in Mrs Beeton’s Victorian cookery books but its reinvention in the US as mac ‘n’ cheese gave it a new life in the UK bringing the dish to an audience of younger diners. Operators love it because it’s cheap and quick and easy to produce, offering good margins and is easily revamped with the addition of other ingredients.” Prices for the dish on UK menus vary from £2.39 to £3.75 for a side order, to £5.95 to £9.25 for a main course. The survey also revealed the pulled pork phenomenon is far from over, with 20% more menus featuring the dish year-on-year. Hash potato dishes are another revamped dish growing in popularity, listed on 18% more menus this year than last. Hash is being served with ingredients such as halloumi and beetroot, duck confit, eggs or chorizo. Like macaroni cheese, coleslaw has undergone a similar makeover and re-emerged as ‘slaw made with ingredients such as bacon and cranberry, fennel & beet, or as chilli slaw. The popularity of ribs continues too – up 11% year-on-year – appearing as a main course or on sharing platters topped with a variety of sauces. Beefburgers and pizzas are still the nation’s more frequently listed dishes although rump steak is becoming a more popular with steady growth over the past two years. Concerns over healthy foods appear to be increasing with 45% more menus mentioning “superfoods”, while the words “allergy” or “allergen” increased 20% year-on-year. The number of vegetarian dishes listed on menus has also risen since last winter, up to 27% of menu items from 23% last year. The survey also revealed foodservice operators are increasingly offering “meal deals” in a bid to win market share, with 71% of eating out brands now offering one or more meal deals. Some 6% more dishes were included in meal deals as part of winter menus this year, compared with last year.

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