Using frozen produce is one way in which pubs can cut down on costs.

Using frozen produce is one way in which pubs can cut down on costs.

Many pubs have found their finances a bit squeezed in recent months and are looking at ways to boost their bottom line. However, in doing so they find themselves facing an age-old dilemma - do they sacrifice quality in order to make cost savings?

One area in which many pubs are looking to save is the ingredients they use in their meals with some resorting to using frozen food rather than fresh ingredients. This has a number of benefits for the pubs in question; lower costs, less wastage, convenience and less skill required in the kitchen, but will it have any benefits for the customers who ultimately eat the food?

A number of studies by the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) show that consumers often can't tell whether or not they are eating frozen produce and that as many as 97 per cent of chefs already use frozen produce to some extent.

There are also benefits for the consumer in terms of the locked-in ingredients found in frozen foods and with BFFF figures showing that savings of around 30 per cent can be made by using frozen produce instead of cooking from scratch there is little wonder that many chefs are being tempted.

"As people struggle more with money they will start to really look at how much they throw away," said BFFF director-general Brian Young. " Pubs are doing happy hours and so on to keep people visiting and more and more will have to look at frozen options. A lot of the time people don't know they're eating frozen food."

If pubs are looking to introduce more frozen ingredients there are a number of things they should remember:

Do the taste test

There are some frozen items which taste just the same as their fresh equivalent and it may be prudent for chefs to use these to complement meals which also contain fresh ingredients.

Do taste tests among the restaurant or pub staff and see which frozen products meet your standards and then work out how to include them on the menu to create savings.

Be honest

It is important that if you are using frozen ingredients your menu does not make claims about homemade chips or fresh produce - if people can tell the difference they will be disappointed and are unlikely to make a return visit.

Quality is likely to guarantee return visits

At a time when customers are cutting back on eating out they are more likely to return to somewhere they have enjoyed a quality meal which could mean that splashing out on high-quality ingredients is worth it in the long run.
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