The pub industry is missing out on nearly £5m a week in food sales as customers visit pubs less often and spend less on food when they are there, wide-ranging research has revealed.
In a survey of 5,600 pub customers by research group Him!, only 9% said they go to pubs with the intention of eating.
Katie Littler, client director at Him! said: "Year-on-year the number of people buying food in pubs has gone down but we believe this is a reflection of the credit crunch causing people to spend less.
"But there is a growing opportunity for food. Food sales are slightly down across the industry this year but it is still a huge opportunity to attract more people into pubs and spend more money when they are there."
The pub industry needs to improve its delivery when it comes to food as only 17% of customers thought that the average meal exceeded their expectations, Littler added.
The same shortfall applies to drinks sold in pubs with customers expecting to spend an average of £9.32 on every visit to the pub but actually spending £8.50 - equating to £150,000 a week lost in drinks sales by pubs across the UK.
Him! interviewed 5,663 customers in Greene King, Enterprise Inns, JD Wetherspoon, Shepherd Neame and Punch Taverns pubs, as well as in Slug and Lettuce, O'Neils, All Bar One and Pitcher and Piano chains during April and May.
By Christopher Walton