Pubs upping food game

Publicans, formerly known to have a limited food offering, have invested in upgrading their food offering and food-led pubs are now increasing in both numbers and importance, driving much of the foodservice growth in this sector, stated Bord Bia in its recent recent Insights Report into the Irish Foodservice market, launched ahead of the recent Foodservice conference at the RDS.

With an increased focus on eradicating drink-driving, publicans report a decrease in overall alcohol consumption, states Bord Bia which reports, “To find success in today’s culture, industry experts and publicans alike say food offerings will help drive consumer traffic back into pubs. Today, consumers can find a range of foodservice offerings across many of Ireland’s pubs from heat and eat meals to Michelin Star menus using local ingredients”.

As alcohol sales are flat, food sales are growing according to one trade association in the report which stated, “Food can account for 80% of a business (on the high end). They’re doing food well and it‘s dominating their business”.

But while in many pubs to this day the food offering still remains basic as drinking has declined, more pubs have invested in upgrading their food offering.

“Consumers are moving away from the traditional drink-led pubs to those that offer a food menu and a more lively atmosphere for socialisation,” according to Bord Bia, “Largely, consumers have shifted to favouring pubs that function more like restaurants in offerings and ambience”.

Consumers spend just over €1 billion a year in our 7,100 pubs here according to the Insights Report.

But pubs across the Island of Ireland are likely to bring in €1.4 billion in terms of consumer spend for 2018 and €402 million for operator purchases. From now to 2021 Insights forecasts a Category Annual Growth Rate of 1.6% to €1.456 billion for spend on the Island of Ireland. Insights also forecasts that consumer spend in pubs will increase by 1.8% between 2019 and 2022.

The aforementioned trade association is also quoted in the report as stating, “What we have seen is a continued change in the pub space. It is now more food- and events-driven”.

Indeed, excluding alcohol, pubs account for 19% of the Commercial Foodservice spend with pubs enjoying a Category Annual Growth Rate of 2.4% – but this should be set against a 7.5% CAGR for Cafés & Coffee Shops and a 7.6% CAGR for Hotels & Accommodation.




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