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Shrinking menu sizes key to kitchen cost-cutting during pandemic

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Fresh analysis from Lumina Intelligence’s Menu Tracker has revealed that autumn/winter 2020 restaurant menus have 24.5% fewer dishes on them than in 2019.

The average autumn/winter menu size across chain, managed pub/bar and fast food restaurants is 58 dishes – down from 77 in Autumn/Winter 2019.

The steepest decline in menu dish counts was from chain restaurants, which declined 26% year-on-year.

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The average managed pub/bar restaurant reduced its menu size by 24% and fast food restaurants 17%.

These declines have been felt across all courses, with starter and dessert seeing the steepest declines year-on-year at 27% each. Main course counts on restaurant autumn/winter menus declined 25% and sides 18%.

Interestingly, the report finds that the only channel to further reduce its menu size versus spring/summer 2020 is chain restaurants, which, on average declined 4%.

Managed pub/bar restaurants made steep declines to spring/summer 2020 menus with trade processes unclear at the time.

Since operating throughout the summer managed pub/bar restaurants have increased menu dish counts by 12% to align with chain restaurants.

Fast food operators including McDonald’s and Burger King have been able to trade more successfully throughout the pandemic through delivery, drive thru and takeaway.

As a result, in comparison to spring/summer 2020, the average fast food restaurant menu has grown 8%.

Katherine Prowse, insight manager at Lumina Intelligence said the data demonstrates how important it has been for operators to streamline menus during the pandemic in response to the conditions they face.

“Staff redundancies and uncertain trading conditions mean operators have made cuts to inventories to reflect leaner teams, manage costs and deliver consistent dishes whilst adhering to safety measures.

“Shorter menus have also reduced the risk of falling victim to supply shortages across the pandemic. With the plan to ease restrictions now outlined, we may see operators increase menu sizes in spring/summer 2021, particularly as pent-up demand from consumers converts into busy restaurants.”

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Andrew Seymour

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