Pub food on a plate

Keeping up to date with the biggest food and drink trends is critical to make sure that we’re offering consumers what they want. That’s why we work with a trend-tracking agency called The Food People. They help us understand exactly what’s going on in the marketplace, and to help us identify key food and drink trends.

Additionally, we also do a lot of research on all of our menus in our managed estate before we launch them. The information and insight we gather during that research is very valuable and certainly worth sharing with our free trade customers.

It’s vital that we understand what is driving consumer purchase, both now and in the future. Here are some learnings to help you think about your food and drink offering, as well as some suggestions on how to capitalise on that insight in your own venue.

1. CELEBRATE THE JOY OF FOOD

The cost-of-living crisis means customers rely more than ever on small pleasures to bring enjoyment to their days.

Action: Celebrate the joy of food in your venue. Food is a fundamental part of life and is far more than simple sustenance: it’s central to the enjoyment of visiting a venue with family and friends. Why not be more descriptive on your menus and on social media, highlighting the sensory pleasures food can bring to your customers? If you are able, use photography to bring your dishes to life.

2. TRAVEL THE WORLD

Today’s consumers are increasingly well-travelled and increasingly interested in trying new and exotic cuisines from around the world. Our research shows that the cuisines currently trending include Korean, Italian and Fusion.

Action: Are there accessible ways you could bring some variety to your menu through introducing new dishes and experimenting with new world cuisines? Unlocking the more unusual can be a talking point for customers – think about smoked flavours, sweet twists on savoury dishes, simple but interesting flavoured sauces Such as chipotle mayonnaise. The options are limited only by the imagination of your kitchen team!

3. NOSTAGLIA ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE

Despite the growing interest in far-flung cuisine, you don’t always have to travel to the other side of the world to deliver a memorable dining experience. Traditional, nostalgic food has been very much on-trend through the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, offering great opportunities to unlock sales and grow profits.

Action: Adding some modern takes on old-school classics can be a relatively easy way to bring new life to your menu and tap into the joy of familiar comfort food. Comforting desserts like Jam Roly Poly hark back to simpler times and, with a little effort, can be presented in a number of ways: no-frills traditional, upweighted premium or modern twist. Again, you and your kitchen team will know which options are most appropriate for your customer base.

4. HEALTHY HABITS

Health and wellbeing has been a long-standing trend that shows no signs of waning. More and more consumers are seeking dishes they perceive to be better for them, perhaps not every time they eat out, but many are seeking to eat more healthily more often.

Action: You could introduce an expanded salads section to your menu, moving beyond the standard Chicken Caesar and Greek Salad classics and introducing fusion-influenced salads to offer more interesting options to customers looking for a delicious but healthy dish. Or you could add a fresh twist to classic salads to bring them up to date and broaden their appeal.

Similarly, you could boost the health credentials of many of the dishes you already sell by cutting back on salt, fat and sugar and using leaner cuts of meat and fresh vegetables on the side.

DESIGNING YOUR MENU

Our extensive menu research shows that are some key things to think about when designing your menu to tap into the trends highlighted above. These include:

  • Layout and flow – how easy is the menu to read and understand?
  • Menu content and style – what’s the best way to present your dishes to diners? Through imagery? Through descriptions? Can you bring them to life more with some extended descriptions or some artistic photography?
  • Fonts and colours – the design of your menus can say a lot about your venue
  • Pricing, deals and promotions – consider how to make these elements stand out at a time when customers are being careful with their money.

DRINKS TRENDS

To complement your food menus, it’s also a good idea to keep abreast of the latest drinks trends. By keeping up with the latest consumer insight and taking a considered approach to the drinks you serve, you can help ensure that your drinks sales and profits are maximised.

  • Season changes are always a good time to introduce new and different drinks. Use POS to draw attention to new and exciting flavours and create simple extensions that are accessible and  easy, such as a Peach Spritz
  • Rum-based cocktails are continuing to gather momentum. Why not use some of the new flavoured rums available to drive experimentation?
  • Garnish – don’t underestimate the power of other customers viewing the drinks you serve! Instagrammability is key!
  • Nostalgia counts in drinks too – tap into retro and comforting influences, dessert-inspired flavours are always popular, and holiday flavours also play well with customers.