The latest Horizons Menu Trends survey, which tracks 800 high street menus, found that main course salads were listed 54% more since last year (ranking fourth out of the top 20 main course dishes), with the term ‘superfood’ being used 75% more than in 2015.
Lower sugar options – such as Leon’s date-sweetened porridge and Itsu’s agave syrup oats ‒ also made an appearance, as vegetarian options doubling since 2010 and vegan choices up 21% compared to last year. Gluten-free mentions rose by 89% in the past two years, while wheat-free choices were up 80% compared to last year.
And while less healthy options such as ‘dude food’ beefburgers, pizzas, and chicken burgers were still the top three most-mentioned items, burger mentions shrank by 7% and hot dogs dropped off the top 20 list in favour of burritos, which were up 56% on summer 2014. Fish and chips have also declined by 26% since 2014.
Meat is still big business, but more dishes are now inspired by US-style deep south low ‘n’ slow cooking, with slow-cooked beef brisket, pork belly in Jack Daniel’s glaze, and ‘pit wings’ appearing at Best Western, TGI Friday’s, and the Handmade Burger Co.
Horizons’ managing director Peter Backman said: “Customers are now much more willing to try new foods, particularly those with perceived health benefits. Social media…and fitness bloggers have made an impact on what we eat at home, and therefore what we expect to see on eating out menus. More than ever before operators need to keep up with the pace of change. It’s important they stay in touch with what’s hot and what’s not.”