Snacks and nibbles boost customer spending in food outlets

  • Main course prices fairly constant year-on-year
  • Cost of starters and desserts rise across outlets
  • 60% increase in snacks and nibbles on menus
  • Average cost of a three-course meal increases

RESTAURANTS, pubs, hotels and quick service outlets across the UK are lowering the cost of main courses – but boosting customer spend by increasing the price of starters and desserts.

The number of snacks and nibbles on offer has risen by 60 per cent year-on-year, whilst the proportion of side dishes offered is now 18.2% compared with 17.1% in the same period last year.

Picture of snacks and nibbles on offer in food outlets, which have risen 60 per cent
Snacks & nibbles on offer in food outlets risen 60%

Foodservice consultancy Horizons, bi-annual Menu Trends Report (summer 2016), tracked changes across 121 UK outlets.

“Operators are up-selling additional side dishes and snacks to customers rather than increasing the price of their main courses,” said Horizons’ analyst Nicola Knight.

“The cost of eating out has risen at a slower rate than inflation over the past year…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.”

Key findings:

  • The average price of a main course across all types of outlet went down 2.1% year-on-year to £10.71.
  • Starters dropped 3.2% and dessert prices rose to 1.1%.
  • Hotel prices for a non-meal deal main course fell by 4.1% to £14.67 this year.
  • Pubs increased their main courses prices by 1.4%. The price of a main course is £9.81.
  • Restaurant main courses prices have dropped 1.2% year-on-year to £11.15.
  • Quick service outlets charged 2.5% less for a main course, with a new average price of £5.87.
  • In hotels the average price of a starter rose 15.6% to £7.57, whilst restaurants raised starter prices 8.1% to £5.09. In contrast pub starters became 12.5% cheaper this year at £4.74.
  • Hotels raised their dessert prices 10.6% year-on-year to £6.35. Restaurants saw a more modest increase at 1.8% to £4.96, whilst pubs kept prices broadly the same at £4.40 (up 0.6%).

The higher cost of starters and desserts had the overall effect of raising the price of an average three-course meal across most sectors. The average price for a non-meal deal, three-course meal (excluding drinks) in a hotel was £28.59 (up 3.7%).

In a pub a three-course meal cost £18.94 (up 1.1%) and in a restaurant it was 1.5% cheaper than last summer at £21.22.


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