Macaroni cheese was 550% more likely to appear on restaurant menus across the past 12 months compared with 2010, according to analyst Horizons.
The most recent Menu Trends report shows comfort food is still a defining element of the eating out market, with hash potato dishes growing by 18% this year, and beef burgers and pizzas still the most frequently listed dishes on menus. The pulled pork trend is also far from over, the report said, appearing on 20% more menus compared with last year. Ribs – with a range of sauces – appeared on 11% more menus.
Despite this, however, 45% more menus mentioned the word ‘superfood’ this year compared with last, and the number of vegetarian dishes made up 27% of menu items this year, compared with 23% last year. Similarly, mentions of allergies or allergens rose by 20%.
The biggest rise was dubbed the “reinvention of macaroni cheese”, with the report finding that the dish is being served in a variety of ways across the UK, including with crunchy toppings, for relatively low prices, such as £2.39-£3.75 for a side order, to £5.95-£9.25 for a main course.
For their part, hash potato dishes were being served with a range of relatively luxurious options, such as halloumi and beetroot, duck confit, eggs, or chorizo sausage.
Other sides, such as coleslaw, also saw a rise on menus, and was found served with ingredients such as bacon and cranberry, fennel and beet, or with chilli.
The report also showed that meal deals are becoming increasingly common, with 71% of brands now offering this option, and 6% more dishes appearing in meal deals this year compared with last.
The Menu Trends report collects data from 121 brands, including across pubs, restaurants, quick-service sites, and hotels, with the most recent information collected in October and November 2015.
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