If your customers are demanding premium drinks, then it figures that they are going to want more than a packet of dry-roasted peanuts for a snack.

And while classic quick bites remain as important to pubs as mainstream lager and a decent pub quiz, the growing popularity of posh snacks should not be overlooked.

In fact, the trend for grazing rather sitting down for a formal meal is one of the drivers behind the launch of McCain Foodservice Solutions' Brew City range.

That, along with younger customers wanting a good range of craft beer to tempt them out of the home.

Robin Norton, category controller at McCain Foodservice Solutions, explains: "Brew City's innovative range of hot bar snacks – that pair perfectly with beer – has been designed to help operators tap into the so-called "Beermunch" revolution by elevating the bar snacks category, with a view to increasing incremental spend and keeping the good times going."

 

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He points to research by the NPD Group that suggests out-of-home snacking is on the up (11 per cent in the last year) and that pubs are the biggest beneficiaries of this trend, with a 28 per cent increase in money spent on pub snacks in that period.

On top of that, a quarter (24 per cent) of people are more likely to visit a pub with a good selection of craft beer, so a good hot snack can keep them there for longer.

So what kind of things are on the menu?

Robin continues: "The Brew City range consists of eight products and includes: Mac N Jack, Monterey Jack cheese & macaroni pasta wrapped in a crispy beer batter coating, that pairs perfectly with Stout; Potato Pops, mini barrels of crispy shredded potato, that pair best with a cold Pilsner; and Fiery Jalapeño Slices, small but mighty slices of red and green jalapenos in a tempura batter, that pair perfectly with a brown ale."

Spanish snacking magic

 

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Other snack suppliers are treading a similar path with their ranges.

Aviko's spicy options include Jalapeno Snacks, Philadelphia Snacks and Chilli Cheddar Nuggets. On the sweet side, there are Straight Cut Churros, made in Spain to a traditional recipe.

Mohammed Essa, commercial director at Aviko UK & Ireland, says: "With 71 per cent of consumers choosing to graze throughout the day (according to Sainsbury's research), offering premium snacks will help pubs boost profits outside of typical busy dayparts."

Knock up your own nibbles

Of course, you can always make your own as well. Classics such as scotch eggs and sausage rolls can be turned into bespoke offerings that customers associate with your business.

In fact, both of those snacks have been given numerous twists in Young's Pubs' Scotch Egg Challenge and the Great Sausage Roll Off at Fuller's pub The Red Lion in Barnes, south-west London. Check out both for a little bit of inspiration. Maybe your pub could become renowned for its selection of pickled eggs or homemade vegan scratchings (yes, these are a thing).


Sustainable snacks

Another long-term trend in dining is customers' growing interest in the story behind their food and where it is sourced from.

Isabelle Haynes, category manager for snacks and beverages at Bidfood, explains: "Like the average consumer in Great Britain, pub consumers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability and sourcing of the products they eat.

"Unsurprisingly, this ethical consideration is filtering through to their on-the-go purchasing decisions, meaning it's more than just taste and price considerations enticing them into their snacks and confectionary purchases. In short, consumers aren't as price-led as they used to be, and are prepared to pay a premium for brands that have a strong ethical story behind them."

 

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This trend has a knock-on impact in other areas. For example 45 per cent of customers say that packaging is important to them (CGA) so they will have a keen eye on products that can be recycled.

Going into 2020, there is another health-related trend on the way. Isabelle says: "Gut health is a big trend to watch out for, with more specific trends such as fermented foods and kefir making their way into our everyday food choices. Whilst we have started to see elements of this trend creeping in this year, it's looking to really increase in popularity in 2020 as it becomes more widely recognised."

Whether your customers are looking after their health or simply looking for something to go with their pint, they could well be in the market for interesting options that they are not afraid to pay for.