The calorie labelling regulations, which came into force on 6 April 2022, imposed a real challenge for operators, with many having to design menus and redevelop dishes.
The energy content must be displayed in kilocalories (kcal), reference the size of the portion to which the calorie information relates and display the statement ‘adults need around 2,000 kcal a day’.
Star Pubs & Bars, with 109 managed operator pubs serving food, has been affected by the calorie regulations.
Menus are generally centrally created with exact portion sizes and tight dish preparation specifications to ensure consistent quality, according to operations director Mick Howard.
This made it a much simpler exercise to identify the calories in each dish than it would be for an individual operator, he added.
The menus for Star’s managed operator pubs are refreshed and reprinted twice a year. The calories were added to the menus as part of this process, so there was no added cost.
Howard added: “Trade has not been impacted by the calorie labelling regulations and we do ensure there is a wide range of dishes available for the consumer to choose from.
“While the calorie labelling regulations have proved relatively straightforward to follow for our managed pubs, they would not be practicable for an individual licensee with a regularly changing menu.”
Liberation Group head of food Alice Bowyer said the enforcement of adding calories to menus created extra challenges for the industry without enough guidance.
Furthermore, Bowyer 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.
This was echoed by Paul Dickinson, now former 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.”