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Health concerns dent ‘dude food'

03 August 2016 by

Diners' appetite for ‘dude food' items such as beef burgers and pizza is decreasing as they increasingly opt for healthier food, according to a survey by data and insight company Horizons.

The biannual Menu Trends survey, which tracks changes on 800 high street menus, found that burgers have seen a 7% decrease in popularity since last year and hot dogs have been knocked off the list altogether in favour of burritos which list on 56% more menus than in 2014.

The demand for fish and chips has also declined, with menu appearances dropping by 26% in the past two years.

Conversely, salads are 54% more popular as a main course item than last year, vegetarian dishes have twice the prominence they did in 2010, with 21% of brands now also offering vegan options. Gluten-free and wheat-free terminology has risen by over 80% on menus during the last two years.

Jamie Oliver's ‘sugar tax' is thought to have taken a hand in the rise of healthy choice menu items, Horizon claims. For example, Burger King offers apple fries as an alternative to chips, while healthy eating fast food chain Leon sells porridge sweetened with date and vanilla purée rather than golden syrup.

Horizons managing director Peter Backman said: "Customers are now much more willing to try new foods, particularly those with perceived health benefits. Social media has also prompted the sharing of recipes and food ideas, while the popular lifestyle and fitness bloggers have made an impact on what we eat at home, and therefore what we expect to see on eating out menus. More than ever before, operators need to keep up with the pace of change.

"The trend for healthy and lifestyle eating is becoming more and more popular and high street menus are now reflecting this. Operators now have to make a difficult decision about what to keep on their menus. It's important they stay in touch with what's hot and what's not."

In response to the news that the prevalence of fish and chips had dropped, Stephen Oswald, chief executive of Direct Seafoods, said: "Direct Seafoods has seen orders of fish increase measurably over the past year. While people might not be eating fish and chips in the traditional sense as much these days, fish is increasingly a popular choice on menus, providing a healthy and tasty protein source for diners. Whether it be on salads, within starters or with vegetable and bean based accompaniments, fish is a versatile protein that chefs love to cook with. Traditional fish and chip dishes can be made healthier too, by using sunflower oil, or coating in breadcrumbs or polenta instead of batter and baking or grilling instead of deep frying."

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