Older consumers’ preference for alcohol while eating dinner out has helped to widen the gap with soft drinks, the latest MCA data has shown.

MCA’s Menu and Food Trends 2017 report shows that alcohol accounted for 43% of drinks consumed with dinner in Q1 2017 – up 0.8 percentage points (pp), compared with 41% for soft drinks – down 0.7pp.

The proportion of hot drinks at dinner was down 0.4pp to account for 8% of the total.

The rise in the consumption of alcohol comes despite falling interest from the 18-34 year-old market, which saw a 1.9pp fall for alcohol, to represent 28% of total drinks, in comparison to 55% for soft drinks (+0.2pp). Hot drinks were also down for this age group – by 1.2pp to 3% of the total.

The 50+ market, in contrast, increased its alcohol consumption while eating dinner out 2.4pp to 57% with soft drinks staying flat and total hot drinks down 0.8pp to 12%.

The 35-49-year-old market drove the decline in soft drinks, with consumption down 2.6pp year-on-year (to 44%) and alcohol up 1.2pp (40%). This was also the only age group to increase consumption of hot drinks at dinner – up 0.8pp to 7%.

The Top 10 drinks at dinner remained broadly the same year-on-year, with beer/cider flat at 21%, wine up 1pp to 20% and cola falling 2pp to 12%.

The report shows that while lager is the most popular type of beer/cider on dinner occasions, it has lost share as craft beer, stout and fruit/flavoured cider have increased in popularity. Red wine remains more popular than white, but after a decline in the former and rise in the latter, the skew towards red is now less pronounced.

The report breaks down the choice of drinks by age group and gender as well as going into detail on the most popular drinks with key dishes.

It also includes a detailed breakdown of views from leading industry figures, as well as analysing menu pricing and composition trends, consumer insight and concepts to watch.

To find out more, please contact sophie.barber@mca-insight.com