Mixed pricing strategies are being used across the top 10 chain restaurant operators (ranked by turnover), as they try to balance margin pressures and topline growth, new MCA Menu Tracker data has found.

Analysing menu price changes for spring vs. summer and summer vs. autumn 2017, the research revealed that while prices have gone up by 1% on average, between summer and autumn, on top of a 0.2% rise between spring and summer, this doesn’t perhaps paint an accurate picture of the variety of changes being seen across the operators. It also suggests that brands are more regularly reviewing the need and scope for seasonal price rises, as opposed to imposing a wholesale price rise on menus.

Pizza Hut, for example, has passed on two rounds of price increases during those time periods, while Frankie & Berry’s has cut prices on two occasions, as it seeks to restore stronger value for money credentials. Nando’s, T.G.I Friday’s and Wagamama have not made any changes to their prices during that time.

Tracker data also found that several high price increases had come through recently. Overall, same-line products that had changed in price did so by an average of +3.9% between summer and autumn this year. This was driven by significant price rises at Carluccio’s (7.4%), Pizza Hut (5.2%) and Cote (4.0%).

In terms of the course that have seen the highest price increases, side dishes saw the highest rises in term of entry level prices during autumn, up by 8% on average. In contrast mains saw an increase of 0.4% on entry levels, which was offset by a drop in mains exit prices of 0.3%.

MCA said it predicted that skilful management of pricing and promotions would be one of the most important business competencies during 2018.

To find out more about Menu Tracker please contact Girish Srikantha at girish.srikantha@mca-insight.com