Pubs serving food are increasing their market share as the consumer trend of visiting pubs to eat as well as drink continues, research has found.
According to a report by market analyst Key Note, food-led pubs now represent 35.2% of the restaurant meals market, which it valued at £13.1b in 2009.
The report said that there was a "steady movement" of pubs increasingly serving food, and that this eating-out category has now overtaken the quick-service sector.
While it blamed the constraints of the recession for the lack of growth in the restaurant meals market (it registered a growth of only 4% over the last five years), it said that recovery could be on the cards for 2010.
Key Note's forecasts for the restaurant meals market is for total growth of 17.7% (at current prices) over the five years to 2014, taking the market to a new peak of £16.28bn.
While it predicted stability for the growing pubs meals market, the report said that it was likely to bottom out when saturation set in. It cited higher commodity prices on basic items such as rice and flour coupled with higher overheads and running costs related to energy prices and staff costs as "factors likely to push meal prices up in the restaurant trade".
"The current trends towards value offers may be short-lived," it said.
By Rosie Birkett
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