Pub and restaurant operators are gradually beginning to add more dishes to their offerings but menus are still generally 20% smaller than they were during the pandemic.
Latest research from Lumina Intelligence’s Menu Tracker shows that average spring-summer dish counts across chain, managed pub/bar and fast food restaurants were up by 5.5% compared with autumn-winter.
Operators typically added an average of four menu items during that period.
Fast food operators have seen the biggest increase in dish counts on menus, up 6.9% in SS 2021 to 47 dishes.
In comparison, managed pub/bar restaurants have seen menus grow 4.4% to 63 dishes on average and chain restaurants 5.8% to 64.
Despite increases across menus since the peak periods of the coronavirus, menus are on average 20% smaller than pre pandemic.
Operators continue to battle staff shortages, supply chain disruption and price fluctuations while considerable uncertainty while planning SS 2021 menus would have contributed to continuing to restrict some items.
Katie Prowse, senior insight manager at Lumina Intelligence, said: “Whilst we have seen dish counts rise since restrictions have eased, menus still remain significantly smaller than before the pandemic. Whilst we expect menus to continue to grow, operators are still navigating staff and produce shortages.
“With a smaller menu, operators can potentially rely on fewer ingredients and fewer staff, which mitigates the potential need to close due to staff illness or lack of produce. Smaller menus also help manage costs and with hospitality businesses trying to recoup the revenue they lost during the past 18 months, owners will be keen to drive efficiency.”