Fact: during warmer weather, establishments offering al fresco dining enjoy a distinct advantage over their competitors. Figures released by a recent Coffer Peach Business Tracker show that, during the fine weather last August, pubs achieved like-for-like sales growth of 2.5% compared with just 0.3% at casual dining establishments. Significantly, pub food sales were four times higher than drink sales during that month.
“As the weather gets warmer, the idea of food sizzling on the barbecue has an undeniable lure for consumers,” comments Grace Keenan, brand manager for Kerrymaid. “Interestingly, American-style cuisine continues to maintain momentum, proving particularly popular during summer months, when operators tend to move towards quick service options.”
The most in-demand American dish for the barbecue remains the much-loved burger, with 13% growth in 2013 from the previous year, according to Horizons’ Menurama survey.
“Burgers of all varieties appeal to a wide range of customers. Toppings also give barbecue food a ‘gourmet’ feel, and adding cheese to burgers is now an expectation; 95% of burgers sold in QSR are served in this way,” adds Keenan.
If the warm weather we enjoyed during April continues – and we have been told to expect a sizzlingly hot summer – then it is definitely time either to dust down your BBQ or invest in one as consumers will increasingly be looking for outdoor dining opportunities.
For BBQ advice, take a look at porkforcaterers.bpex.org.uk where you will find a host of top tips provided by barbecue specialist and three times UK barbecue champion, Andy Annat. Andy’s advice includes the following:
- Always oil the grill before cooking, not the food; this prevents the food from sticking
- Injecting large cuts of pork with fruit juice will help to tenderise, add flavour and keep the meat moist. Use an acidic juice such as apple juice, or you could try cider or beer – experiment
- Use a herb brush to glaze the meat. Making your own herb brush is easy; choose woody herbs such as rosemary and thyme
- If you’re struggling to fit several racks of ribs on your barbecue, simply roll the ribs and skewer in place – that way, you’ll be able to fit eight racks on the grill, instead of only three
- Keep a lid on it! Don’t be tempted to keep lifting the lid of your barbecue, you’ll only lose heat, smoke, moisture and flavour.
A word of caution
“Everyone loves to dine outside when the weather turns nice, however with the unpredictability of the British weather, caterers need to offer customers a mix of dishes that will appeal come rain or shine,” advises BPEX foodservice trade manager, Tony Goodger. “Cold eating pies and sliced meats are perfect for lunchtime dishes such as a traditional Ploughman’s or sharing platters, which can be served with home-produced pickles and fresh artisan breads.”
The BPEX website (porkforcaterers.bpex.org.uk) has a tasty selection of summer recipes including Pork and Broad Bean Salad, Bacon and Beet Salad, Warm Puy Lentil Salad with Sausages and Poached Egg and Summer Sausage and Three Tomato Tartlet. The site also has a collection of short films featuring a range of pork cuts that are ideal for the barbecue.
New beef and lamb cuts from EBLEX
“Sausages, burgers and prime steak cuts are all popular barbecue fare, but we believe caterers should be offering their customers a wider selection of products to further enhance the occasion and drive sales,” says Hugh Judd, foodservice project manager for EBLEX (English Beef and Lamb Executive).
Putting its money where its mouth is, EBLEX has introduced a number of cost-effective beef and lamb cuts that are ideal for the summer months. The new ranges include premium burgers, added-value steak cuts and bone-in cuts developed for enhanced flavour and succulence. Further information can be found at www.eblextrade.co.uk
Beef and lamb mini roasts are another good option for the BBQ and ideal for sharing platters. “Prior to cooking on the barbecue, mini roasts can be dusted in a prepared dry rub or brushed with a sticky glaze and soaked in a marinade for 20 minutes to obtain a more intense flavour,” suggests Hugh. “The mini joints should be wrapped in foil to seal in the meat juices and then placed on the edge of a rack of a prepared barbecue for 20-30 minutes.