Capitalise on consumption trends and turn to small plates and sharing food for an easy way to add to your bottom line.
Mintel recently identified sharing food and tapas style small plates as a key consumer trend. Not only do they encourage customers to try a larger range of dishes but they offer fantastic profit potential.
McCain Foods Profit on a Plate report showed that by adding sides or starters to pub menus, outlets could significantly raise sales. They estimated that as much as £8,000 could be added to the bottom line in a year. This is backed up by NPD Crest data which showed that just 15% of pub food orders included a sweet. One reason for diners’ antipathy towards starters and desserts is the ability to fit in a course alongside a main. This is where sharing food comes in.
Starters and desserts
A key trend for 2012 is sharing dessert platters. Instead of one dessert, diners are offered a range of smaller tapas style dessert portions that are often to share. This enables diners to ‘squeeze’ in a dessert and to sample a few desserts in one go. Sharing dishes for starters have been popular for a while and combo platters incorporating Chinese and Indian mini bites are already well known sharing dishes. When planning menus, other popular starters can be adapted to this sharing format to increase the number of dishes ordered.
Offering roast joints to large parties is anew and popular concept. The Canton Arms in Stockwell, West London is gaining new customers from doing this. A joint of meat and vegetables is served in the middle of the table and guests help themselves, encouraging a laid back way of eating that involves everyone. Paella is another fun sharing main course. When it comes to Indian, Mintel found that for caterers to develop their Indian offering (especially with women), they should offer tapas style curries, providing a few small tastes of curries rather than complete main dishes. Their research showed that this encouraged customers to be more adventurous and experiment with new flavours.
Starter for 10
One pub in Cambridge took sharing foods to a new level with their ‘starter for 10’ night. They offer 10 dishes at £4.50 a dish or three dishes for £10. Says owner Alex Clarke,“we had taken a village pub that had previously run fish and chip and steak nights. These were fine but were not encouraging our customers to experiment with the a la carte dishes we believe set us apart from the competition. We needed a risk-free and affordable way of encouraging our customers to try them, so we came up with the idea of offering sample sized dishes of our menu.”