Official Government figures claiming that spending on eating out has overtaken expenditure on meals eaten at home have been labelled "misleading" by a leading food industry consultancy.
Last week, a report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggested that, between 1992 and 2004, the amount spent on food eaten outside the home had soared by 102.2% to £87.5b. In comparison, expenditure on food eaten at home grew by 53.4% to £85.8b.
But Peter Backman, director of consultancy Horizons For Success, said that the ONS figures were way above the real figures, as they also covered overnight stays and drinking in pubs.
"Both of these have an eating-out component, but it is only a small fraction of the whole," he told Caterer. "Eating out is concerned with food, not with sleeping and drinking. To claim otherwise will lead the uninitiated to draw the wrong conclusions about the size of the eating-out market."
Research from Horizons has shown that the eating-out market, including any drinks associated with the consumption of food, is worth £35.8b annually, 31% of the total food and drink market.