According to the 2015 Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast 'the time is right' for operators to create new dishes based around seasonal produce.
John Pinder, Lynx managing director, said: “Inflation is at a historically low level and as we move from spring into summer the availability of UK meat, seafood and fresh fruit and veg is generally very good, quality is high, and value for money is excellent.
“As the same time, there’s a strong consumer appetite for new flavours and innovative dishes. We are continuing to see new smokehouse and barbecue concepts rolling out, and this trend coincides with an upsurge in slow-cooked dishes and underused meat cuts such as brisket and pork shoulder appearing on menus.”
He added that it was a ‘real opportunity’ for restaurants, pubs and hotels to ‘refresh’ their menus.
“We’re not suggesting that operators drop their best sellers, but they should be speaking to suppliers about which produce is best value, and using specials boards and dish-of-the-day promotions to try new ideas,” he said.
Lynx’s recommendations for creating a new menu included hospitality businesses working with suppliers to identify good value cuts of beef and pork suitable for the increasingly popular barbecue, smokehouse and slow-cooked dishes.
The company said that with availability changing weekly, ‘operators who can keep menus flexible’ would benefit.
Rib-eye steak prices are set to remain particularly high as peak barbecue season approaches. Sirloin is now less common on branded pub and restaurant menus, offering a better value option for independents.
Businesses are being urged to reduce reliance on popular fish species such as cod and haddock in favour of ‘catch of the day’ specials using sustainably caught fish from British waters, including hake, pollock, bream and lemon sole.
Seasonal British vegetables are a recommended menu accompaniment with the British cauliflower crop forecast to be plentiful, ensuring low prices throughout summer.
British cabbages and courgettes area also predicted to remain good value once home-grown supplies are available.
Salad options such as watercress are forecast to be both good quality and price, alongside UK-grown rocket and red chard.
Pinder urged operators to make changes soon, as the current market conditions 'won't last forever'.
He said: “Even when inflation is low, caterers don’t always see the same deep discounts that consumers enjoy, and the weather will always throw us some surprises in terms of supply issues.
“By trying new ideas now, operators can offer customers the all-important variety they want. A broader range of dishes with proven appeal can make all the difference when conditions change and competition gets fiercer.”
The full report is available to view here.