The average number of dishes on food menus has remained significantly down on pre-pandemic levels, despite a 5.5% rise in dish counts since last autumn/winter, according to the latest data from Lumina Intelligence.

Dish counts increased by an average of four menu items in spring/summer 2021, but menus in chain restaurants, managed pubs and bars and fast-food chains are, on average, 20% smaller than before the pandemic hit last March, at 62 items.

On a year-on-year basis, dish counts at managed pub/bar restaurants increased by the highest percentage, up 16.8% to 63 items, and by 15.3% to 47 items at fast food operators, while growth at chain restaurants was smaller with dish counts up 1.9% to 64 items.

Katie Prowse, senior insight manager, Lumina Intelligence, said that while dish counts had seen some growth since restrictions have eased, “menus still remain significantly smaller than before the pandemic”.

“Whilst we expect menus to continue to grow, operators are still navigating staff and produce shortages,” she said.

“With a smaller menu, operators can potentially rely on fewer ingredients and fewer staff, which mitigates the potential need to close due to staff illness or lack of produce. Smaller menus also help manage costs and with hospitality businesses trying to recoup the revenue they lost during the past 18 months, owners will be keen to drive efficiency.”

To find out more about Lumina’s Menu Tracker report, please click here.