Proud to be British

By Lesley Foottit

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British food fortnight, Local food, Public house

Coming soon: British Food Fortnight
Coming soon: British Food Fortnight
Lesley Foottit explores ways pubs can get involved in British Food Fortnight, running from 17 September to 2 October.

British Food Fortnight (BFF) is fast approaching again (17 September to 2 October), giving pub operators the chance to revel in local produce and all things British.

The event, now in its 10th year, presents an opportunity to up food sales, increase footfall, attract new customers and drive profits.

This year is being seen by some as a trial for BFF 2012 (27 July to 12 August), which is timed to coincide with the London Olympics and capitalise on the large number of tourists expected to flock to these shores for the occasion.

This means operators must find out what works now in order to make the most of the opportunity next year. BFF organisers urge licensees to get involved to reap the benefits and maximise the opportunities to use fresh, seasonal, regional produce and drive food sales through matching ideas with beers, wines — and soft drinks for designated drivers.

NHS trusts, councils, school catering services, major government departments and pubcos including Admiral Taverns, Adnams, Enterprise Inns, Everards, Marston's Pub Company, Mitchells & Butlers and Punch Taverns are all supporting the 10th BFF

and encouraging their pub estates to do the same.

But what's in it for you?

Why get involved?

Deep down, most Brits are proud of being British, and BFF gives them a chance to indulge that.

Past events have proven that celebrating BFF can boost business by a third or more.

And enticing some new customers in during BFF means more customers for life.

Several operators have reported an increase in Christmas bookings following the event, which means it is an opportunity that publicans cannot afford to miss.

In the current climate of consumers eating out less often, it makes sense for operators to widen their customer base to account for more visitors who come into pubs infrequently.

"One in five of us actively search out British food," says Vanessa Millard, senior marketing manager at foodservice supplier 3663, which is also supporting the fortnight.

"Operators should use this as an opportunity to promote the use of British food on their menus and to clearly show customers that they're using quality produce."

Economically, buying British is affordable due to reduced food miles and processing. For pubs that already source locally — shout about it.

British suppliers

"In the past, businesses have seen around a 34% increase in sales as a direct result of BFF, according to event organisers, and, with the Olympics round the corner, it is the perfect opportunity for pubs to trial menus and prepare to show visitors what Britain has to offer," says general manager for Bernard Matthews Foodservice, Duncan Marsh.

He encourages pub caterers to use British produce, such as Bernard Matthews turkey products, which tick the healthy-eating box as they are lean meats, low in saturated fat and high in protein.

McCain Foodservice is another popular British supplier, buying in the region of 750,000 tonnes of potatoes every year, which come from areas ranging from County Durham to the Isle of Wight. Serve up chips with a number of accompaniments, or on their own with a pint.

Why not offer a range of special dishes or snacks with chips, promoted on your blackboards?

East Yorkshire-based Farmhouse Potato Bakers provides Britain-sourced potato products to the foodservice industry, including jacket and roast potatoes, potato skins, stuffed jackets and mashed products, such as bubble & squeak.

Farmhouse Potato Bakers' products can be used in British classics, such as bangers & mash and shepherd's pie or as part of sharing platters, using potato skins or potato longboats with dips.

The products are supplied frozen and can be oven-heated in minutes.

Why not go the whole hog and provide British beverages too?

Geoff Holland, owner of the Holly Bush Inn at Salt, Staffordshire, is bringing in a locally-sourced wine list.

And thanks to the Belvoir Fruit Farms company, operators can do the same with soft drinks.

The Lincolnshire-based firm stocks a range of 13 cordial varieties, 10 pressés and a total of five varieties of Fruit Crush.

Food & drink-matching

There is no question that customers are influenced by food and drink-matching recommendations. If it is not possible to print suggestions on menus, ensure that staff are equipped with some sensational pairing ideas to tempt customers.

Al Cross, marketing controller for Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer, says: "Licensees who can recommend great food and drink pairings will really drive their sales during British Food Fortnight.

"There lies the opportunity for brands to really drive pairing messages to custom/ers and publicans alike."

Pubcos' support

Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns are also encouraging their pub estates' involvement in BFF.

"We have been actively promoting this event to our pubs through our marketing and catering teams: it's a great opportunity to celebrate what's great about locally-sourced, home-grown produce," says a Punch spokesman.

"Food is a very strong driver for business growth in our pubs and using food grown on pubs' doorsteps is a great selling-point for our licensees."

Punch licensee William Creighton, at the Hare in Roxwell, Chelmsford, Essex, plans to shout about

the pub's local-sourcing ethos throughout BFF.

"It is important to let our customers know that we support local farmers as it has very much been one of our ideals," says Creighton.

"Our menu already consists solely of British dishes and we're delighted that we are celebrating British food as a nation."

Get more information

8226 Visit the official website at www.lovebritishfood.co.uk​ for advice on the fortnight, including recipe ideas, advice on sourcing, suppliers, case studies and everything you need to make British food a storming success.

8226 Get free PoS by downloading from the website, email info@lovebritishfood.co.uk or call 020 7840 9292.

Case study: Showcase your sourcing

Staff at the Holly Bush Inn, in Salt, Staffordshire, throw themselves into British Food Fortnight (BFF) every year as they are passionate about local sourcing.

To make the fortnight different, owner Geoff Holland researches old regional and English dishes to put on — such as fidget pie — using ingredients sourced from Staffordshire.

"The pub supports BFF wholeheartedly and has done since it began 10 years ago," says Holland. "As we use traditional British food anyway, during the fortnight we emphasise what we do as opposed to new innovations. So it is what we do every day of the week, but multiplied."

Holland is also creating a British wine list using local suppliers, will offer more local guest ales, and suggest beer and food-matching on menus.

He generates free advertising by sending out press releases to the local papers and magazines, displays posters and table-talkers, and emails and writes to the pub's database of 2,500 people with incentives for visiting during BFF.

The Holly Bush is a very busy pub already, catering for around 2,000 guests a week, despite a small 64-cover capacity, so Holland does not rely on events to increase footfall.

Although he estimates the fortnight will increase business by 12% to 15%, his real gain is the new customers it brings in and the opportunity to reinforce the Holly Bush message of quality food all year round.

Saying cheese in Cheshire

The Cheshire Cat, in Nantwich, Cheshire, will also focus on local produce for the fortnight with Taste of Cheshire sharing boards costing £9.95 for two or £5.95 for one. "It will focus on food produced in and around Nantwich, such as Joseph Heler cheeses, and meat products from Brookshaws of Nantwich," says owner Louise Bastow.

There will also be a wine-tasting evening with Nick Gent, of Rodney Densem Wines, in Nantwich, with a selection of wines matched to a number of canapés for £11.95 per person.

"Last year w

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