Snacks Focus: Hot and spicy wins the day

Related tags Meal Snack food

The impeding smoking ban has prompted many pubs to consider refocusing their food offering because of the potential impact on wet sales. With spicy...

The impeding smoking ban has prompted many pubs to consider refocusing their food offering because of the potential impact on wet sales. With spicy Asian and Oriental flavours increasingly popular, the Authentic Food Company has an internationally inspired range which enables pubs and bars to prepare hot finger food quickly and easily.

Its Indian Meat Snack Selection includes chicken pakora, lamb samosas, chicken samosas, onion bhajis and sachets of pakora sauce for dipping. A clearly visible snacks menu can encourage customers who would usually settle for a packet of crisps or nuts to upgrade to a sharing platter or snack dish.

Vegetarians can be catered for with an Indian Snack Selection of onion bhajis, vegetable and spinach pakoras, vegetable samosas and pakora sauce. The company also offers a range of Oriental Dim Sum.

Nik Basran, group marketing manager at the Authentic Food Company, says: "The link between food and drink is key to boosting profits and many outlets are looking to develop customised menus to fit their customer profiles.

"In addition, today's consumers like to have a wide range of choice and are opting for international foods that deliver on taste and quality."

Dave Howarth, trading director at Woodward Foodservice, says: "Publicans can maximise profits by marketing their snack menu between meals and at early and late evenings - this targets customers who may have skipped lunch, are waiting for their evening meal or want to nibble while they drink.

"The best snack menus offer a wide choice, from small nibbles such as chips and dips through to larger options such as burgers or pizzas to share. Publicans can boost profit margins by offering a strong selection of snack food throughout the day.

"The grazing trend has been pioneered by the younger generation. Pubs could think about offering student discounts or other offers on their snack menu at quieter times of the day."

Go for the impulse purchase

It is relatively simple to adapt items from an existing menu to develop a snack offer, says Dave. "A snacking menu will sit well alongside a regular menu and can also encourage impulse purchases. To make the best use of products already available, publicans can use the same item in both menus. For example, potato wedges as an accompaniment in the main menu can work well as a snack with a selection of dips on the snack menu or as part of a combo."

For pubs reluctant to invest heavily in staff and resources before gauging the popularity of a snack menu, a simple product such as hot dogs can be a useful way to test the water.

Herta Frankfurters from Nestlé Foodservices are particularly suited to pubs not usually in a position to offer hot snacks due to limited space and facilities. The pre-cooked frankfurters can be warmed on a roller grill, bain marie or in an oven with minimal preparation - leaving busy barstaff free to pull pints.

Another hot dog specialist, Westler Foods, also offers burgers and spicy Mexican snacks. Marketing manager Caroline Firth says: "Hot dogs make a great impulse purchase for the consumer who wants something a little different.

"There are a number of ways to use hot dogs in snack dishes without going down the traditional route, that's why we have developed a serving suggestions booklet offering delicious and alternative menu ideas. Try a Westlers hot dog sliced on pizza; wrap it up with a fresh salad and cous cous or in a panini with chunky salsa and melted cheese."

The Mexican snack food market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the on-the-go market. Consumers expect more than a bowl of chips and are becoming increasingly demanding with sophisticated tastes. Ethnic flavours are now especially popular as consumers crave flavoursome snacks that are hot and spicy.

Authentic Food Company: 0161 495 400

Nestlé Foodservices: 0800 742 842

Westler Foods: 0800 027 6336

Woodward Foodservice: 0870 600 6465

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