UKHospitality (UKH) has issued the warning following reports the Government is preparing the launch of a consultation on a requirement for businesses to provide calorie labelling on menus.
UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Mandatory calorie labelling could have a significant impact on the hospitality sector, particularly smaller businesses that would struggle to cope with the huge burden of a one-size-fits-all approach.
“The knock-on effect would almost certainly mean prices go up and investment in businesses go down.”
Other than prices, it would also have a huge impact on how hospitality businesses, including pubs, deal with wastage, according to Nicholls.
She added: “There is also a serious potential that mandatory calorie labelling would undermine businesses’ effects to tackle food waste, which is a growing concern for consumers and an area of innovation for businesses.
“A blanket introduction of inflexible calorie labelling would represent a serious additional cost for businesses already facing tightening margins and economic instability.
“It would also represent a considerable burden for those venues that change their menus regularly, some on a daily basis, to incorporate locally sourced produce, seasonal ingredients and specials.
“Small and medium-sized businesses might also find their ability to innovate, particularly when tackling food waste, severely restricted.”
Relying on flexibility
Nicholls said the hospitality sector is supportive of efforts to promote healthier eating habits and it is taking decisive, proactive action to reformulate menus to reduce calories and increase transparency and choice for customers.
“Many larger venues already include calorie content on their menus voluntarily, with many high street brands providing customers with an unprecedented level of information,” she added.
“But even larger businesses, operating numerous distinct brands, rely on the flexibility provided by voluntary labelling.”