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Potential £9bn market for sector as vegans pay 65% more for meals

Vegans are spending the most money when they go out to eat, with diners spending up to £37.55 on the average meal.

That’s £9.43 (33%), a third more than vegetarians (£28.12) and £14.88 (65%) more than those with no dietary requirements at all (£22.67).

Caterer.com, the UK hospitality jobs board, surveyed over 2,000 ‘selective eaters’ in the UK about their dining out habits. According to the results, the new wave of ‘selective eaters’ represents a potential £9bn lucrative boon for UK restaurants.

Selective eating trends such as veganism appear to be permanent and not just a fad, with 47% having followed such diets for over 10 years. Only 16% of selective eaters have picked up their new diet in the past two years.

Selective eaters don’t seem to bother their fellow dining companions either, with only 8% of those without dietary restrictions having avoided inviting those with dietary requirements out for dinner.

With as many as four in five selective eaters dining out at least once a month, and a further 60% willing to commit on dining out to restaurants that go the extra mile, the potential financial benefits for restaurateurs are advantageous.

Whilst many restaurants have been quick to move in the right direction, three in five selective eaters feel there’s plenty that can help them make safer decisions about where to eat. Some 47% of selective diners worry about a mistake with their meal, indicating that restaurants need to be able to reassure customers as much as possible.

Having allergen aware staff (49%), flexible substitutions (43%) and making sure allergens are listed on menus (43%) are all suggestions selective eaters think restaurants should be able to have in place to point hungry diners in the right direction.  

There also seems to be an increased demand from the industry for specialist chefs and front of house staff, as Caterer.com said vegan-related roles had increased by more than 123% since 2017, with an additional 300 jobs advertised across the UK.

Meg Ellis, marketing director at Honest Burger, said: ‘‘It’s clear that consumers are making more informed choices about the food they eat and as an industry we’re responding to an increased demand for dietary diversity across our menus. It’s an interesting and rewarding challenge for our sector.

“We put a lot of effort into training our staff around dietary needs and preferences and ensuring our processes are robust and externally audited so people can feel reassured before their first bite. We involve our teams in the development of our menus – amongst them there is a broad mix of dietary requirements and their feedback both challenging and positive has been invaluable in the development of some of our new products.”

Neil Pattison, sales director at Caterer.com, added: ‘‘As consumers become increasingly diverse in their preferences, it’s fantastic to see forward-thinking restaurants grasp the emerging opportunities and deliver innovative menu offerings that are attractive to diners.

“The last thing consumers want is to book a table only to find themselves in the embarrassing position where one of their party simply is left out with little or nothing to eat.

That’s why it’s hugely encouraging to see industry throw its support behind veganism and other dietary requirements by upskilling existing staff, employing specialist chefs and front of house staff, as well as working with certified suppliers.

“With £9bn of revenue up for grabs, the potential rewards for those who can successfully attract selective eaters with clear, open dietary information, great tasting food and a team of professional, engaged staff are huge.”

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