Salads are increasingly featuring as main meals on menus across the sector but appear to be of waning importance to casual dining brands, according to the latest research from MCA.

An analysis of the menus of leading restaurant and pub brands shows that salads are increasingly appearing as main courses in their own right. Overall, salad share of mains across 36 leading brands has risen from 11% to 12% over the past year. The data shows that contemporary fast food has seen the biggest increase in salad share, a rise of 20% to 32% year-on-year, driven largely by Itsu’s additions to its range.

While average salad mains per participating retailer has risen from 4 to 4.3 between Q2 2015 and the same period this year, the starter and side salads count fell from an average of 1.6 to 1.4 over the same period.

While the research shows that pub brands at both the premium and value-led ends of the market increased their salad ranges, casual dining groups scaled back. Salad share fell in three out of the six casual restaurant segments surveyed, with American and Asian cuisine having the lowest share of salad mains.

The report states: “Salads are seeing growth as a main course dish as part of a wider trend towards healthier eating, with counts decreasing for starter and side salads. MCA expects this trend to continue, with larger, more substantial salads coming to the fore, with bolder and more adventurous flavours featuring to increase appeal and justify a more premium price.”

The monthly Brand Analysis Report forms part of the MCA Brands & Corporates service. For further details, please contact Sophie Barber on 01293 846 522 or sophie.barber@mca-insight.com