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Menu design 'to undergo a rethink'

06 | 02 | 13

Restaurateurs and commercial kitchens across the UK are going to need to rethink their menu design over the next decade as environmental and financial pressures constrain the availability of certain kinds of food - especially meat, which is likely to soar in value.

That's the prediction from David Read, chief executive of supply chain consultants Prestige Purchasing, who told Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine that this is to become a keynote issue among both small restaurants and larger brands.

While organisations such as the Sustainable Restaurant Association have taken measures to bring environmental concepts to the attention of the leisure and hospitality industry, menu choices have remained relatively untouched by green concerns.

Businesses, especially in the UK, have become used to widely-available, cheap and popular meat, something that is reflected in the menu choices of the majority of casual dining firms and smaller eateries.

However, the recent emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients has seen many businesses reconsider how they decide on their meal choices - and Mr Read thinks this trend will become more pronounced as the cost of meat begins to hit companies' bottom lines.

"We have had a 20-year period when food pricing has been relatively stable and running at below general inflation. That has changed and it is not going to be like that anymore. Organisations that understand those trends will change their menu construction," he argued.

World meat supply expanded from 71 million tonnes in 1961 to 248 million tonnes in 2007 - although many people consider the current situation to be normal, the reality is that cheaply-available protein is a relatively modern development.

According to Read, meat will also be less fashionable by 2020, meaning that change will not just be driven by the market but by the transformation in the eating habits of consumers.

However, the supply chain expert indicated that high-end restaurants that focus on their meat offering, such as quality steakhouses, will still be able to attract customers but must change their approach to purchasing meat.

"They will need to go further and further up the supply chain and start contracting with farmers to take margin out of the supply chain, but people will always pay for quality," he argued.

A number of organisations and networks have been set up to help restaurateurs and catering firms consider how to ethically source as much of their menu as possible.

Ethical Eats in London, a consultancy firm, works with restaurants in the capital to connect them with suppliers of local produce and suggest ways in which they can minimise their carbon footprint.

It offers a great deal of advice to companies looking to improve their green credentials, pointing out that cutting down on the amount of meat on a menu and ensuring any fish used is sustainably caught are two of the most effective ways to do this.

Other techniques include using as little water as possible in the kitchen and avoiding serving bottled water, as well as using up-to-date and energy efficient kitchen equipment whenever possible.ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801535773-ADNFCR


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