Speaking at the MA leaders’ event in Brighton, East Sussex, on Thursday 15 September, Alice Bower, head of food at Liberation Group, said the enforcement of adding calories to menus, which came into force in April this year, had “horrific timing” and created extra challenges for the industry without enough guidance.
She added: “It was a learning curve for something we didn’t want to learn.
“[But] we continue doing it and putting the information out there”
Furthermore, Bower explained the addition of calories to menus had made them look cluttered as well as proving difficult for pubs in managing discrepancies such as varying potion sizes or amounts of oil used by different chefs.
Triggering for consumers
Not only this but, according to Bower, it had also been “triggering” for a lot of consumers suffering with eating disorders.
However, she added the labelling did have some “positive” impact in the development and evolvement of food offerings to avoid “shaming” customers, though it was “another thing to have to do while balancing everything else”, such as soaring costs across the board, for little recognition.
This was echoed by Paul Dickinson, director of food at Fuller’s, who said the industry had done a lot of work for “no rewards”.
He added: “Because of rising costs [the rewards] have been hidden.
“With allergies there were lots of success stories but we haven’t seen anything.”
Additionally, Dickinson expressed the burden of encouraging healthy lifestyles and choices did not fall to the hospitality sector, but rather it was a question of education and should start with supply chains, not pubs.
Looking at everything
Brewhouse and Kitchen marketing and brand director Matt Presinger expanded on this, stating the issue was more of a “social one”, though it had meant the sector built “knowledge” around lower calorie meals.
He said: “Beforehand we wanted a handful of dishes below a certain calorie count, now we are looking at everything, which is good.”
Dickinson suggested ideals regarding healthy choices should be encouraged by showing younger generations exactly how food is grown to inspire a brighter, more creative, future for people to be healthy
He added: “You don’t see supply chains being challenged. [They] got off lightly.
“Supply chain is where it should start and we should advocate that process.”