Venues cut menus to streamline outside service

Venues cut their menus by nearly half on the first day of outdoor trading, while burgers emerged as consumers’ most wanted dish.  

 

Those are among a host of insights from CGA’s MealMetrics service, which provides suppliers and operators with deep data on meal sales and food trends across the On Premise. It shows that venues were selling an average of 14 main dishes on Monday (12 April)—down from 24 on the equivalent day in April 2019.  

 

Many sites have moved to a reduced range because of the operational constraints of outdoor service, the unpredictability of demand and the risk of wastage due to poor weather. The cut in choice is also a result of a lower rate of reopening of restaurants than pubs, where menus tend to be shorter and consumer focus is more likely to be on drinks.

 

MealMetrics shows Monday’s average main meal price was £9.12—10% up on the equivalent day in 2019, and another sign that some consumers are willing to spend more on their return to the On Premise.

 

Burgers accounted for a third (34%) of all main meal sales on Monday—nearly double their share of 18% in April 2019. Burgers’ reliable appeal and their operational simplicity—especially for outdoor service, as they keep their heat better and are consumed easier— prompting many restaurants, pubs and bars to focus on them during the reopening phase. Other food sales trends were largely in line with pre-pandemic patterns, though familiar dishes like fish and chips and pizza over-indexed slightly.

 

Food sales are likely to pick up share against drinks after Monday, and menu decisions will be crucial for all businesses in the weeks ahead. As CGA’s director of consumer research and marketing Rachel Weller has pointed out, venues will be tempted to cut choice to make service easier, but may risk missing the very diverse needs of people returning to the On Premise.

 

The early signs are that venues will be paring back their food menus in this five-week period of outdoor-only trading, and focusing on tried and tested favourites,” says Andrew Dean, CGA’s client director, hospitality operators and food, EMEA. “Getting the range right is going to be very tricky, especially given the vagaries of the weather and the volatility of demand. To streamline choice without compromising sales, suppliers and operators will need to stay right on top of guests’ preferences on a daily basis.”

 

CGA’s MealMetrics research analyses more than £9bn of till sales data to give suppliers and operators many more insights into dishes and drinks on menus, including distribution, rate of sale, average prices and seasonal trends.

 

For more about the MealMetrics service and how it can support businesses with sales and marketing strategies, email Andrew.dean@cgastrategy.com.

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