The 'boozy lunch' has returned, bucking the trend of an overall decline in alcohol consumption, according to the latest report by M&C Allegra Foodservice.
Alcohol increased its total share of lunchtime drinks to 14% this quarter, a rise of 2% year-on-year, while soft drinks fell by 3% to 51%. The latest Eating Out Panel Q3 Report, which surveys 18,000 consumers each quarter, tracking consumer behaviour, perception and trends, also found that chain restaurants are the drivers of lunchtime alcohol sales with a 6% rise year-on-year.
Beer and cider account for 8.1% of total drinks consumed across all channels at lunch – up from 7% in Q3, 2014. Wine represented 5.1% of drinks sold, compared to 4.1% a year ago. Cola dipped from 10.4% of total drinks to 9.5% and fruit juice fell from 6.4% to 4.6%. Hot drinks maintained its position at 34.6% of the total with coffee remaining the most ordered drink overall.
Gareth Nash, head of consumer insight at M&C Allegra Foodservice said: 'Alcohol consumption has been falling for quite some time now so the figures from [thi report] will be welcome news for the on-trade.
'There are opportunities for alcohol to benefit from the growing eating out market and we are seeing that coming through most clearly at lunchtime.
'What’s interesting is that the growth isn’t just in wine but beer and cider. It seems that the recent resurgence in cider and the growing interest in craft beer have given that segment a lift. You are seeing operators making a much conscious effort recently to match food with beers and ciders, as well as wine, and clearly that is paying off.'
However, the report also found that evening consumption of alcohol is falling, with alcohol’s share of total drink down by 7% to 38.4% of the total drinks sales, compared to the 8% lift for soft drinks to 51.7%. Hot drinks were again flat at 9.9% of the total.