Pub food on the up as operators diversify

26 May 2015 by
Pub food on the up as operators diversify

Pubs are becoming more about eating meals rather than just a place for a quick pint, new research from the NPD Group has shown.

The report found that half of the British population now visits a pub at least once a month, and not just to have a drink. Breakfast has become increasingly popular, with visits to pubs at breakfast up by 128%, from 44 million for the year ending December 2008, to 100 million during the year ending December 2014.

Many chains have capitalised on this tendency by creating a casual dining atmosphere in their pubs, building environments that bridge the gap between traditional full-service restaurants and fast-food venues, according to NPD.

Successful pubs also found that drinks promotions brought in more food-led business, the report showed. Meal deals including a drink were used in 18% of all food-led pub visits, up from 15% for the year ending December 2008.

Drinking has decreased in popularity, with servings of alcohol in pubs down 28% since 2008, and hot beverages and soft drinks served in pubs up 11.4% and 6% respectively.

This rise in food sales did not translate to higher overall pub visits, however, as Britons are actually visiting pubs less. British consumers went to a pub on average of 3.9 times per month in 2008, compared with 3.5 times per month in 2014. This means 47 million fewer visits per year across the industry as a whole.

Jack MacIntyre, NPD Group senior account manager, foodservice UK, explained that pubs had successfully managed to keep up with high street food trends and the importance of food within their offer.

He added that pubs have managed to diversify successfully - as shown in the spike in breakfast visits - and warned that groups would need to continue to innovate. He said: "Pubs need to keep on adapting so they offer a great experience, with a great range, at a great price."

The NPD Group findings reflect those shown in last month's Barclaycard Consumer Spending report, which suggested that consumers are most likely to eat out in a pub, in comparison with other options such as fine dining.

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