Trends: Number of snack plates on menus rises 60%

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Restaurant food trends summer 2016

Related tags: Cent, Meal

Eating out operators are lowering the price of main courses but are boosting consumer spending by offering more starters, snacks and small plates.

That’s according to the latest Horizons Menu Trends report, which tracks the changes at 121 restaurants, pubs, quick service outlets and hotels across the UK.

The study found that the number of snack dishes on offer has risen by 60 per cent year-on-year, while side dishes have increased by 1.1 per cent.

Sector spilt

Over the same period the average price of a main course dropped 2.1 per cent to £10.71 in summer 2016.

Hotels saw the biggest fall in the cost of main dishes, dropping 4.1 per cent to £14.67, while the price of a restaurant main course fell by 1.2 per cent to £11.15.

But the average price of a hotel starter rose 15.6 per cent to £7.57, while restaurant raised their starter prices 8.1 per cent to £5.09.

Pubs proved the exception to the trend, with main course prices increasing 1.4 per cent to £9.81 and the starters becoming 12.5 per cent cheaper at £4.74.

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.”

Prices 'not reflecting' extra costs

The price of desserts also increased across hotels (up 10.6 per cent), restaurants (up 1.8 per cent) and pubs (up 0.6 per cent).

As a result, the average cost of a non-meal deal three-course meal, excluding drinks, rose nearly four per cent to £28.59 in hotels and 1.1 per cent to £18.94 in pubs.

However, the national average price of a three-course restaurant meal was 1.5 per cent cheaper than during summer 2015 at £21.22.

“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,” said Knight.

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