Introducing or improving a food offer can be a daunting prospect for licensees.
Whether looking to provide full meals or just a strong range of snacks, it’s important customers are kept happy. And as with any new product, there’s always a chance any changes to the menu could do more harm to a venue’s reputation than good.
Foodservice firms have argued that using established, recognised brands and working with experts in the field are two ways to reduce some of the risks involved with introducing new foods to an outlet’s offer.
“The brands that a pub, hotel or restaurant stocks sets the tone for the entire establishment,” said Tony Goodman, chief executive of Yumsh Snacks.
“Food is particularly important, as it is often the reason that entices people to return, and what they tell their friends about.
“It is important that licensees are stocking premium quality brands.”
Goodman added that, as the popularity of ‘free-from’ foods continues to grow, licensees would be wise to consider these products when reviewing their food offer.
Quoting figures from Mintel, Goodman predicted that the size of the free-from market will double by 2020.
He said: “We are also seeing that many consumers are now choosing to follow a free-from diet – particularly gluten-free – as a lifestyle choice, rather than having a medical reason to do so.
“My advice to licensees is to respond to this demand by stocking great tasting products that cater to everyone, whatever their specific dietary requirements or lifestyle choice.”
Ron Hickey, catering and on-trade sales director at Bestway Wholesale, said there is a “very clear” rationale for pubs and bars to get their food offer right. And while he acknowledged that there are challenges involved with introducing food to an outlet, including additional costs and compliance with food regulations, he also pointed out that brand owners and suppliers are keen to help where they can.
Taking time to find the right food offer will be well worth the effort, he said.
“The Scottish Licensed Trade Association’s most recent quarterly survey shows that outlets serving food perform “significantly better” than the on-trade as a whole, while the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers benchmarking survey shows food-led outlets in growth while high street and community locals decline,” said Hickey.