According to the latest research from Lumina Intelligence’s Menu Tracker, menus remain on average 20% smaller than pre pandemic, with staff shortages, supply chain disruption, price fluctuations and ongoing uncertainty all contributing to the decrease.
However, there has been a slight rise (5.5%) in average dish counts as the sector has reopened over the spring and summer period compared to the previous six months, with an average of four menu items being added across chain restaurants, managed pubs and bars, and fast food restaurants.
Fast food operators have seen the biggest increase in dish counts on menus, up 6.9% in the spring and summer to 47 dishes.
In comparison, managed pub and bar menus have grown 4.4% to 63 dishes on average, while dish counts on chain restaurant menus are up 5.8% to 64 items.
"Whilst we have seen dish counts rise since restrictions have eased, menus still remain significantly smaller than before the pandemic," says Katie Prowse, senior insight manager at Lumina Intelligence.
"Whilst we expect menus to continue to grow, operators are still navigating staff and produce shortages. With a smaller menu, operators can potentially rely on fewer ingredients and fewer staff, which mitigates the potential need to close due to staff illness or lack of produce.
"Smaller menus also help manage costs and with hospitality businesses trying to recoup the revenue they lost during the past 18 months, owners will be keen to drive efficiency."
Data for this report has been collated using the Lumina Intelligence Menu Tracker, which is a database of over half a million menu items across over 150 different foodservice operators.
To find out more about Lumina Intelligence’s Menu Tracker, click here.