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It looks like a U-turn on the stripped back menus we saw during Covid is in order to help shops through the next few months

It wasn’t that long ago that shops were trimming their menus in a bid to simplify operations to survive one of the biggest challenges our industry has seen – a global pandemic. Now, with rising global food costs and sanctions as a result of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine affecting supplies further, shops must adapt once again and now consider diversifying their menu. 

Cod and haddock, for example, are rising in price at an alarming rate (read our interview with FASFA executive director Julie Waites on p35 to find out more on the reasons). A short term answer is to add a cheaper but similar white fish to the menu – pollock, coley, hake and hoki can be picked up for between 70p and £1.10 a fillet. Don’t expect to add them to your specials board and for them to sell themselves, you will have to turn salesperson and engage with your customers to sell them.

Another item worth considering adding is chicken – it’s a great addition to the menu, popular with kids and adults alike and there are so many possibilities from nuggets, burgers and popcorn chicken to sharing platters, wraps and southern fried chicken. The simplest way is to buy pre-breaded and ready to fry versions from the likes of Meadow Vale and Golden Valley where all the work has been done for you. Equally, if you wanted to do it yourself, the range of coatings and breadings is just as diverse but require more investment and time.

Sausages are one of the very few items that are proving stable at the moment as pork prices crashed last year when a labour shortage caused by Covid left thousand of pigs stranded on farms that should have gone to slaughter. By the time they were processed, many were over spec for retail and were sent for manufacturing, leading to a glut of pork. Why not put on a family feast with two portions of fish, two sausages, chips and sides to help cushion the impact of a price increase? 

In light of recent research by Just Eat (see p4) that shows chips are the most commonly wasted food when it comes to takeaways, try adding a smaller portion to the menu. Better still, name it a ‘portion for one’. You stand to make a better margin and your customers are throwing less away. 

A recent report by UK Foodservice Delivery Market Report 2022 by Lumina Intelligence highlighted homeworking as an opportunity to grow lunchtime delivery trade. It found that foodservice delivery users ordering lunch are 27% more likely to be doing so, citing spending time with their partner as the reason. Maybe you could target couples working from home through lunchtime deals for two?

Also, think about adding plant-based options to the menu to broaden your appeal. The range of choice is incredible these days with everything from burgers and kebabs to nuggets and hot dogs available meat-free. 

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