Small Plates and Sharing Food

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 Small Plates and Sharing Food

What do small plates and sharing food tell us about changing eating habits in the on-trade?

In recent years snack foods and sharing plates have been turned into meals in their own right. Dining occasions are becoming less defined, with consumers increasingly eating up to five smaller meals per day – which offers a significant opportunity for operators to tap into the snack foods market and boost food sales across all day-parts.


What does your small plates/snacking menu look like? How would you advise operators to build a small plates/snacking menu?

Big Al’s recognises choosing hot snacks that offer consistent quality is essential. In addition, all Big Al’s products can be cooked from frozen, minimizing wastage and making them quick and simple to prepare, at any time of day. Big Al’s new authentic, hand-twisted Italian Pizzas are the perfect product to target the snacking market. Big Al’s pizza twists cook easily in 2 minutes 40 seconds from frozen and come in their own hand-held sleeve packaging, making this on-the-go offering a great snack. Available in two flavours, margherita and pepperoni, these hand-held dishes provide a great addition to a sharing food menu.


What trends and food styles have you seen enjoying prominence in small plates?

With casual dining chains growing rapidly across the UK, the revival of flame-grilled flavours has been apparent.  The Grill Guru food concept from Big Al’s celebrates their unmistakable flame-cooked taste. Menu offerings include chicken wings – the perfect addition to a sharing platter. Big Al’s buffalo chicken wings are flame cooked and served with a mesquite glaze and they prove to be a great dish for diners wanting to share a meal.


How can small plates and sharing food boost sales for operators? How can they best offer it and promote it?

Big Al’s offers free point of sale in order to drive traffic to outlets, as well as best practice guidelines on HACCP, recipe assembly, staffing and other operational factors. A menu is perhaps the most important sales tool an operator has. Big Al’s can help to create a menu that works perfectly for an operator’s customer base.


How important is it to be flexible with your small plates offer? How can operators best effect this?

Big Al’s products are all extremely versatile and can all be modified to create offerings for different occasions. Insight shows that diners, especially millennials, are looking to be stimulated by their food choices and an immersive dining experience is just as important as the food on offer itself. The current trend for food customisation is a quick and easy way for publicans to heighten each and every dining experience. Allowing customers to create their dish, their way is a good trend for publicans to tap into – especially in terms of small plates and sharing foods.


Do you have any statistical data about small plates and how it affects the on-trade?

Chicken wings are one of the most popular foods for sharing on a menu and reports show they are the No.1 poultry item on pub menus. Similarly, £3.75 is the average spend per person for a snacking occasion.

To further support publicans in creating consistently delicious, quick and convenient menus, Big Al’s have recently launched a dedicated Pub Food Guide – packed full of insight and advice on building a pub menu that works for a variety of on-trade establishments, and their customer bases. To download a free copy visit


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