Italian was the most popular main course cuisine in the restaurant segment in Q4 2022, with pizza holding the largest share of main courses on menus and being the most common new main course introduced, according to Lumina Intelligence.

The Menu Tracker Quarterly Report, which compiles data from the Menu Tracker tool, found that Italian cuisine grew two percentage points between Q3 and Q4, with pizza continuing to hold the largest share of restaurant menu dishes at 19% despite losing share compared to Q3.

Vegan and vegetarian pizzas were a commonly introduced option, while burgers also grew in popularity between Q3 and Q4, coming in at a 13% share of dishes as operators adjusted menus to allow for consumer indulgence over the festive season.

In the pubs & bars segment, burgers were the most popular main course – accounting for 21% of menus – and grew in share vs Q3, along with chicken dishes. Wings, nuggets, and tenders grew their share of starter dishes while chips remained the most popular sides.

Although 57% of new dishes introduced by pubs and bars were main courses, new dessert dishes also increased their share of menus, with ice cream and cake among the top desserts introduced.

Like restaurant operators, pub and bar operators aligned new dishes to growing trends of indulgence in Q4 as well as customisation and nostalgia post-pandemic.

Similarly, the QSR segment saw pizza, burgers, and chicken dishes as its most popular main, with the latter two growing their share of menus in Q4. Fried and crispy chicken is a growing trend, with brands like McDonald’s and Itsu introducing new options to cater to the trend.

Additional upselling and size upselling increased on QSR menus, although other customisation types – such as free swaps – declined as operators sought ways to manage rising costs.

Lumina Intelligence’s Menu Tracker tool tracks, compares, and analyses the pricing and menu composition of 80 major UK pub, restaurant, QSR, and coffee and sandwich shop operators. For more information, please click here.