According to figures revealed by CGA Strategy this week, pubs are now the biggest single channel for food sales in licensed businesses in Britain; twice the size of the licensed restaurant sector.
The trade consultancy firm also said it did not expect any let-up in the popularity of pub dining with growth expected through to 2017.
"Despite the recession, which has put significant pressure on the licensed trade and caused closure rates in wet-led pubs and sports and social clubs to spike, food-led outlets remain remarkably resilient," Scott Elliott, account manager at CGA Strategy said.
Unsurprisingly, the report found that mains were the primary source of income from food sales with pubs taking in £6.2bn as a result of main meals sold in the last year.
"Our work charts the epic rise of food in pubs from pork scratchings and pickled eggs to the dynamic, diverse and quality-driven landscape evident today. It seems that the nation increasingly sees the pub as a first choice for eating out," Elliott added.
The CGA Pub Food Report 2012 also revealed:
- Just 1 in four pub diners order a dessert
- A fifth of visitors eating in pubs opt for a starter as part of their meal
- The roast dinner remains the favourite meal eaten in pubs - the dish is worth £876m to the sector
- Pubs are also being moulded by the same trains impacting the restaurant sector with current in-vogue dishes, steak and burgers, also in the top 5 list of most popular pub meals
- Sunday's account for 22 per cent of food sales in pubs
Separate research, also conducted by CGA Strategy, appears to indicate salads are not reaching their full sales potential in pubs despite the rise of the health-conscious diner.
Pubs now sell around 26 salads per week at an average price of £7.63 however burgers continue to outsell the salad by 4.5 to 1.
CGA Strategy's Tom Lynch said the cause of the lack in popularity might be the relatively high cost of ordering a salad to eat in a pub. "Although we are seeing more and more quality-seeking diners in pubs, the current price positioning of salads could be having a negative impact on sales, as customers still seek value from their visits."
"With the price of salads so significantly higher than the majority of other main meal items, it does seem like you have to spend pounds to shed pounds in our pub," he added.