Dining out goes casual

Hand-held is food favoured, finds report

• Burgers are still top of the menu but innovation has fuelled demand for ‘street food’ dishes.

CONSUMERS are increasingly opting for casual dining over formal meals when eating out, according to the latest survey from foodservice data firm Horizons.

The firm’s Menurama report has found that food operators are adapting to changing demands from consumers, with menus featuring more “hand-held, easy-to-eat” foods inspired by US and street food cuisine.
Burgers, although still the UK’s favourite main course dish, have started to decline in popularity, appearing on 17% fewer menus than last year, according to the report.
Rising stars include hotdogs, appearing on 86% more menus than last year, and pork ribs, the second biggest climber, at 15% growth.
The report, which surveyed the menus of 116 branded hotel, pub, restaurant and quick service outlets in the UK, also found that menus are becoming more explanatory and more accommodating of diverse dietary needs.
The term ‘gluten free’ was found on 8% more menus year-on-year, with ‘wheat-free’ and ‘flour-less’ appearing as alternative descriptions.
Horizons said it expects a “significant increase” in explanatory terms on menus as EU allergen regulations which come into force on December 13.
Nicola Knight, director of services at Horizons, said the firm is seeing a “high level of innovation on menus”.
“Many of the ideas are coming from the US, but street food and ethnic flavours are also influencing menus,” she said. “Operators are also working hard at providing customers with something new, often by putting a twist on old favourites.”