Al fresco dining may be more suited to Seville than Stirling but that doesn’t mean Scottish operators shouldn’t see the season as an opportunity to boost sales.
A number of foodservice firms supplying Scotland’s pubs, bars and restaurants have offered advice on what they see as some of the steps to summer success this year.
A spokesman for foodservice supply firm Brakes said operators “need to make sure that they have a menu that’s ready for the summer season and makes the most of all the fabulous British/Scottish-grown fresh produce that’s available at this time of year”.
Summer, according to Brakes, means barbecue season, and while there’s no shortage of local produce to please punters, the firm suggested operators ensure that all aspects of the offer – not just the meat – are high quality.
“Venison burgers, venison sausages, Scotch beef burgers and general high-end gastro food are always popular but it’s important to make sure that the accompaniments, such as buns and chutneys, are light and refreshing,” said the Brakes spokesman.
“And don’t forget to provide salads, kale-slaw, cous-cous and Scottish asparagus for those customers looking for healthier options.”
Peter Millen, managing director of Speciality Breads, agreed that barbecues present a strong sales opportunity during summer and had a few predictions on what would prove popular this season.
“Brioche rolls or brioche hot dog rolls will certainly be popular this barbecue season, especially with the US and street food trend continuing, but I think we will see a lot of variety come barbecue time when it comes to bread,” he said.
“With the Olympics, Euros and the UK’s adventurous consumer, I think there will definitely be a world flavour to barbecue proceedings this year.”
“The summer months and barbecue season provides the Scottish on-trade with a fantastic opportunity to wow and excite their customers and with the Euro football championships and Brazil Olympics taking place this year, I expect it to be a bumper summer but operators have to take advantage.
“This means being creative and putting on BBQ events and menus that create a buzz, drive footfall and ensures repeat business throughout the season.”
Tony Goodman, chief executive of Yumsh Snacks, the firm behind snack brand Ten Acre, agreed that the summer months can drive customers towards different flavours. Goodman suggested that operators also offer a snack range that’s tailored to the warmer months.
“Summer is all about lighter bites, and great tasting fruit flavours,” said Goodman.
“It is also a great opportunity to up-sell key seasonal flavours.”
Once the right range is in stock, Goodman reckons operators must also take steps to promote their offer if they want to make the most of summer trading – and he suggested pushing the offer online.
“Online promotion is essential,” said Goodman.
“Most people will log onto the website before they visit, so it is important that seasonal menus and products are a key focus – particularly if they tick the free-from boxes too.”
‘Free-from’ foods, in particular gluten-free produce, was also highlighted by McCain Foodservice. The firm has recently launched a new gluten-free range and reckons demand for gluten-free produce is strong at the moment.
“There is a huge opportunity available to caterers who offer great tasting gluten-free options,” said a spokesman for McCain Foodservice. “In addition to those suffering from coeliac disease, there is also a growing trend among consumers to follow free-from diets which is increasing demand still further.”
Catherine Rigg of McCain Foodservice added that although only 1% of the population has coeliac disease, around one in ten people are “actively looking to remove or reduce gluten from their diet”.
“There is a significant opportunity for caterers who can build a reputation for offering great tasting gluten-free menus, particularly favourites, such as chips,” said Rigg.
“It’s also worth remembering that the people seeking gluten-free options will rarely be dining alone, so there is an impact on the friends or family that they eat out with too.”