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Chart of the Week: Main dishes’ share of the menu surges to almost 50%

Combo meals are on the rise in the UK QSR industry.

In the latest report from Meaningful Vision's Market Intelligence, an analysis of the top 70 UK fast-food chains reveals a notable transformation in menu structure.  Main dishes, like burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and chicken, have always been a staple part of the menus in QSR places. In 2023 they account for half of all items on a typical menu, a 3% increase compared to 2022.  Burger shops and pizza delivery establishments stand out with 54% and 76% of their menus dedicated to main dishes, respectively.

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In the beverage category variations are witnessed across the different fast-food sectors, ranging from 11% in pizza menus to a remarkable 41% among coffee shops.   On average, the beverage category has seen a 2% decrease (25% to 23%) mostly due to cold drinks while the share of coffee offerings remains unchanged.

Additionally, the share of sides, snacks, and bakery items/cookies has also experienced a decline.

READ MORE: Fast food menus focus on main meals and LTOs in response to shift in consumer demand

"In the current economic climate, there's a clear shift in customer preferences towards main dishes like burgers, pizza, sandwiches, and chicken portions," notes Maria Vanifatova, CEO of Meaningful Vision. “The rise in the sales of main dishes can be attributed largely to combo meal options, providing enhanced value for customers. This has led to a notable 3% increase in the share of Combo Meals when compared with menu structure data from the previous year, reaching 20%.  These shifts in consumer behaviour are reflected in the menu offerings and promotions of major chains."

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