In the 12 months to March 2023, the average price of a hot pub meal soared by 13% from £9.79 to £11.05, recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.
This comes after UKHospitality warned climbing food costs were creating "unsustainable" trading conditions for the sector.
Inflation rose by 10.1% in the 12 months to March 2023, down from 10.4% in February, according to ONS figures.
Has inflation forced you to switch out ingredients at your pub?
One of Britain's top gastropubs, the Unruly Pig in Bromswell, Suffolk, had slashed confit of duck leg off its menu after it quadrupled in price. The dish had been swapped with a much cheaper and locally shot mallard.
The pub was also close to axing hand-dived scallops from the menu, which are more expensive but more ethical than dredged and tubbed ones.
The problem was, said owner Brendan Padfield, that guests saw other restaurants serving cheaper scallops, and didn’t understand why those at the Unruly Pig were so comparatively expensive.
At the Red Lion in Shepperton, Middlesex, staff were adapting menus where possible to shoulder rising costs. For instance, a steak had to come off the menu after staff were forced to price it at £38.
Cheese prices had gone through the roof, said operator Steve Orme.
Indeed, milk, cheese and eggs products have recorded some of the highest annual inflation rates, with ONS figures showing a 30% increase in the months to March 2023.
Quality comes first
So, the pub had also cut down the amount of cheese on dishes by around a third. But special offers such as £10 burger Mondays were helping to keep customers coming through the door on quieter days.
On the other hand, the head chef of the Hampshire-based Purefoy Arms, was not letting climbing food costs determine what went on the menu. Gordon Stott also refused to switch higher quality ingredients for cheaper cuts or garnishes.
“This may seem stubborn,” he said, “but high-quality ingredients give you a better-quality meal, even if you have to pay a little extra for it.” This is reflected in the Candover pub’s menu, with classic mains priced at around £17.
But for Stott, the price was fair. “We hope to continue this strategy,” he added.