Food is shrinking as businesses struggle to increase margins amid rising food prices.
New research by food consultancy Horizons looks at trends in British menus. It’s major discovery was the Americanisation of British menus, with hot dogs and burgers now featuring on 85 per cent of menus.
American phrases are also on the increase, with terms such as ‘black & blue steak’, ‘cobb salad’ and ‘slaw’ creeping in.
However, interestingly, the size of food served is falling. The research found that the average weight of a beef burger had fallen to 6.35oz in 2013, compared to 7.69oz in 2010. This is a 17 per cent drop. They are now at their lowest weight since the survey began.
But it’s not just burgers, many meat products are also shrinking. Sirloin steaks are eight per cent smaller, fillet steaks have reduced by seven per cent and gammon steaks by four per cent.
“Against a backdrop of rising food costs and squeezed consumer spend, the reduction in weight of key meat dishes demonstrates that operators are having to become more savvy with regard to menu and price engineering,” said Nicola Knight, director of services at Horizons.
She suggested that the shrinking margins could be a reason more British restaurants are bringing hot dogs on to the menu, as these are cheap to produce and even when given a gourmet twist have a high margin.
Indeed, traditional favourites like mixed grills, beef lasagne and chicken curry are being replaced by American dishes like pulled pork, chicken wings and ribs.
“We have been surprised by these Menurama results, which show a significant growth of meat-based, American-style dishes across the menus of a broad selection of eating out establishments,” Ms Knight added.
Companies have also dropped the use of healthy eating descriptions, with both changes illustrating a change in the consumer market. While a couple of years ago eating out was common, now it is a treat or celebration.