Latest insight into foodservice trends from EBLEX

Latest insight into foodservice trends from EBLEX

Consumer spend in the foodservice sector continues to increase, but there is still no room for complacency, were the findings of the latest ‘Focus on Foodservice’ report from EBLEX.
The annual insight into the latest trends and opportunities in the sector shows that consumer spending in the foodservice market grew by 2% in the 52 weeks to the end of June 2014, according to NPD Group/CREST.

While the signs are positive, the research shows that not all sectors are in growth and that more needs to be done to attract customers in certain areas. For example, while visits to Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) are up overall, male customers are driving this growth, whereas female custom continues to decline. And while the pub sector is showing good growth among the under-50s, the over-50s, a group which traditionally spends more per head than any other, continue to drift away.

The report cites focus group research which shows the top five things to consider in order to win custom. Some are perhaps obvious, such as the need to know and appeal to the local community, to attract customers acting on a spur-of-the-moment decision to dine out near home, whereas others are less so, for example, using the menu to describe more unusual cuts of meat, to encourage diners to give them a try.

Lack of lamb-based dishes on menus

One of the key issues to come out of the research is that consumers are noticing the lack of lamb based dishes on menus. With good quality lamb currently in plentiful supply, EBLEX believes that now is an ideal time for caterers to reintroduce lamb on the menu. Foodservice project manager for EBLEX, Hugh Judd, said: “2014 has been a vintage year for lamb; high-quality lamb is currently available on the market and, with the seasonally good supply, prices are competitive, making it a great protein option for caterers to use right now.”

The report also looked at latest trends showing up on menus around the country. World foods continue to be adopted by the UK foodservice scene, reflecting the multicultural market we have today. Meat dishes, for example, are increasingly served slow-cooked, pulled or from the smokehouse, with a strong Southern USA or South American influence.

Premium burgers continue to thrive

Street Food, inspired by flavours from around the globe, is showing no signs of abating. In fact, we are even seeing pop-ups appearing in pubs, spicing up the traditional pub menu for the limited period of time that they are on site. Cuisines which are particularly popular on the UK Street Food scene at the moment are American, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Lebanese and Vietnamese.

Just as Street Food continues to thrive, so too does the premium burger; the report features a range of menus proudly stating the back-story behind their burger, for example: ‘Our burgers are made from farms in Yorkshire, Essex and Kent; varying from Dexter, Longhorn and Red Lincoln’ and ‘Herefordshire 28 day mature beef patty, 20-hour braised shin of beef’.

Hugh said: “The UK foodservice market is an exciting place to be at the moment, with so much innovation delivering new concepts and formats, influenced by such a diverse range of cuisines from around the world. It’s an exciting time for the meat industry too, with chefs increasingly wanting to experiment with alternative cuts, while still ensuring they use the best quality ingredients available. The ‘Dirty Food’ phenomenon best sums it up; it’s about getting back to basics and enjoying the food, forget the cutlery, eat it with your fingers if you want! And why not?”

To discover more about the findings and trends highlighted in the new ‘Focus on Foodservice’ report, read it in full online at

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