Starters and menus push up pub prices

Related tags Main course Meal Price

The rising prices of starters and desserts are pushing up the cost of a three course meal in pubs, despite main course prices remaining fairly...

The rising prices of starters and desserts are pushing up the cost of a three course meal in pubs, despite main course prices remaining fairly stable.

Of 400 menus from UK managed and independent pubs, restaurants and hotels analysed for research house Horizons' latest Menurama study, pubs have increased the cost of starters and desserts the most.

In pubs this year:

• starters cost 10.6 per cent more this year than in 2008, jumping from £3.68 to £4.07

• desserts now cost 6 per cent more, rising from £3.46 to £3.68

• a main course is now actually cheaper than it was a year ago with the average price falling from £7.19 to £7.17.

The research also revealed that pubs dropped their main course prices by a huge 32p from January to July this year in a bid to boost trade with deals and promotions.

Paul Backman, Horizons' development executive, said: "The discounts and meal deals currently evident in the market have kept the prices charged for main courses fairly stable - in many cases they are lower than they were last year.

"But some operators, particularly in the pub sector, have made up for discounting on main courses by increasing the price of other dishes."

Backman said pubs were using starters and desserts to improve their margins as they are relatively cheap to produce.

"However, customers are very observant when it comes to price increases and could opt for just a main course if the price of starters and desserts rises too high compared to the cost of a main course," he said.

"We would expect these pricing changes to level out if promotional activity lessens as the economy picks up. However, it could take at least 18 months for establishments to phase out promotions altogether."

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