Menu trends

Macaroni cheese sales rise 550% as dish hits £10 mark

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

How much would you pay for mac 'n' cheese ... as much as £9.25?
How much would you pay for mac 'n' cheese ... as much as £9.25?

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Some eateries are charging almost £10 for a portion of macaroni and cheese, as sales of the dish have grown by 550% in the UK since 2010.

Mac 'n' cheese has become a British favourite on eating-out menus, with businesses adding their own spin on the dish, according to figures from a Horizons survey.

Menu analysis shows the dish has been created using classic ingredients to more premium ones and some with the addition of crunchy toppings.

Other places are serving it inside burgers, calzones or as a side dish, which costs between £2.39 and £3.75.

As much as £9.25

However, for a main course, customers are spending as little as £5.95 or as much as £9.25, according to research group Horizons.

Analyst Nicola Knight said: "Macaroni cheese was once a cheap, comfort food for home cooking but has now become a favourite on menus. It's a huge success story for restaurants and pubs and shows that chefs have returned to some of our old favourites by giving them a new twist with modern ingredients.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese in short

  • 550% increase in sales since 2010
  • £2.39 – £3.75 for a side dish
  • £9.25 is the maximum amount for a main course
  • Some pubs and restaurants have premiumised their offer
  • Others have kept it simple
  • Victorian cook Mrs Beeton included it in one of her books

"Macaroni cheese featured in Mrs Beeton's Victorian cookery books, but its reinvention in the US as mac 'n' cheese gave it a new life in the UK, bringing the dish to an audience of younger diners. Operators love it because it's cheap, quick and easy to produce, offering good margins and is easily revamped with the addition of other ingredients."

The analysis, which looked at the menus of more than 120 high street eating-out brands, also showed pulled pork was still a popular dish and more than 20% more pub or restaurant menus featured it.

Hash potato dishes had also undergone a revamp and is on 18% more menus this year compared with last year. Ingredients used in hash included halloumi and beetroot, duck confit or eggs and chorizo.

Mentioned 'superfoods'

Healthy-eating concerns among consumers appeared to be influencing menu curation, as 45% more menus now mentioned 'superfoods', the research said.

The use of the word allergen increased by 20%, when compared with last year and the number of vegetarian dishes on menus rose from 23% last year to 27%.

Knights added: "The latest survey also reveals foodservice operators are increasingly offering 'meal deals' in a bid to win market share, with 71% of eating-out brands now offering one or more meal deals.

"Some 6% more dishes were included in meal deals as part of winter menus this year, compared with last year."

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