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Thu 15th Sep 2016 - Horizons – operators maintain main course prices, boost spend by raising cost of starters and desserts, new focus on side dishes and snacks
Horizons – operators maintaining main course prices but boost customer spend by increasing cost of starters and desserts, new focus on more side dishes and snacks: UK operators are maintaining the cost of main courses on their menus but boosting customer spend by increasing the price of starters and desserts and focusing on more side dishes, snacks and nibbles, according to foodservice expert Horizons. Its latest Menu Trends survey, which tracks the trends and changes on the menus of 121 restaurants, pubs, quick service outlets and hotels, revealed the proportion of side orders offered is now 18.2%, compared with 17.1% this time last year. There has also been a 60% increase in the number of new snacks dishes on menus since last year. Horizons analyst Nicola Knight said: “This partly reflects the more flexible nature of dining out, driven by consumers who want to eat what they want, when they want. But it also shows that operators are up-selling additional side dishes and snacks to customers rather than increasing the price of their main courses.” The average price of a main course across all types of outlet went down 2.1% year-on-year to £10.71, while starters dropped 3.2% and deserts prices rose to 1.1%. Price reductions varied according to the type of outlet, although hotel prices for a non-meal deal main course fell by the largest amount at 4.1% to £14.67 this year. Pubs increased their main course prices slightly this year (1.4%) with the average price of a main course now at £9.81, while restaurant main course prices dropped 1.2% year-on-year to £11.15. Quick-service outlets charged 2.5% less for a main course, with a new average price of £5.87. With the exception of pubs, many eating out venues raised the price of starters. In hotels the average price of a starter rose 15.6% to £7.57, while restaurants raised starter prices 8.1% to £5.09. In contrast pub starters became 12.5% cheaper this year at £4.74. The cost of desserts increased across most sectors. Hotels raised their dessert prices 10.6% year-on-year to £6.35. Restaurants saw a more modest increase at 1.8% to £4.96, while pubs kept prices broadly the same at £4.40 (up 0.6%). The higher cost of starters and desserts had the overall effect of raising the price of an average three-course meal across most sectors. The average price for a non-meal deal three-course meal (excluding drinks) in a hotel was £28.59 (up 3.7%). In a pub a three-course meal cost £18.94 (up 1.1%) and in a restaurant it was 1.5% cheaper than last summer at £21.22. Knight added: “Overall the cost of eating out has risen at a slower rate than inflation over the past year so it seems that operators do not seem able to increase their prices to reflect additional costs such as the National Living Wage and the possibility of supply costs increasing post-Brexit.”


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