Menu prices rise 6% in past six months, Horizons research shows

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Operators are adding a twist to old menu favourites to ensure they stand out more, the Horizons research shows.
Operators are adding a twist to old menu favourites to ensure they stand out more, the Horizons research shows.
Restaurants and pubs have raised their menu prices 6% in the past six months as they pass on increasing food prices to customers and off-set the expense of promotions such as meal deals and voucher offers, according to new research from Horizons.

Average dish prices have risen the sharpest for any sixth month period since the survey launched in 2006, Horizons’ biannual ‘Menurama’ reveals.

The average price of a dish across all outlets has risen 6.4% year-on-year, from £6.29 to £6.69, with a 5.7% rise in the past six months. The average cost of a starter is now £5.59 (up 5.6% in the past six months), a main course is now £10.62 (up 7%) and a dessert averages at £4.20 (up 4.2%).

Horizons pointed out that these rises are significantly above RPI inflation of 2.7% in January 2013.

The Menurama survey also shows an increasing “premiumisation” of dishes on menus. “Operators are adding twists to old favourites to make them stand out on the menu – they are getting better at describing dishes too, so what was once listed as an ‘apple pie’ is now a ‘Cox’s apple pie’, and nachos are ‘home fried nachos’,” said Horizons’ director of services Nicola Knight.

The survey also noted a rise in food provenance statements, such as ‘local sourcing’, ‘free range’, ‘home made’ and other quality assurances and a growth in the number of British dishes listed such as Eton mess and Bakewell tart (Hilton), Start Bay crab risotto (Jamie’s Italian), and Gloucester Old Spot sausage & mash (Slug & Lettuce).

Describing a menu ingredient as ‘local’ has become one of the top five terms used on menus, joining ‘homemade’, ‘free range’, ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ as the most frequently used terms. The use of food provenance labels has risen nearly 18% since summer 2010.

“Descriptions of food provenance are something Menurama has tracked previously, but operators are now using it far more. This survey was undertaken before the recent horsemeat scandal emerged, but because of renewed concerns over food sourcing, particularly meat, we would expect our next survey to show even more effort being made by operators to reassure consumers with details of provenance,” said Knight.

Other trends identified in the survey include the continued growth of meals for sharing whether they are smaller, taster platters such as beef sliders (All Bar One), mini burgers (Varsity), combo desserts (Wagamama), or main courses for several people such as Carluccio’s 23oz dry-aged rump steak to shred and share.

Meanwhile, the Mexican influence continues, moving from well-known dishes to less mainstream ones such as duck tostada and huevos rancheros Mexican breakfast (Giraffe) and beef and bean tostada flatbread (Slug & Lettuce).

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