Government bungles foodservice statistics

Claims by a government agency that consumer spending on eating out of home has overtaken meals at home have been dismissed as rubbish by a foodservice expert.

National Statistics has published a press release claiming spending on eating out of home totalled pound;87.5bn in 2004, compared with pound;85.8bn on products eaten at home.

However Peter Backman, managing director of Horizons, said the true out of home figure for 2005 was pound;35.8bn.

He pointed out anomalies in the National Statistics research such as inclusion of spending on accommodation in hotels, and all drinks in pubs whether or not they are consumed with food, and said: “No doubt the figures are well researched – it’s just they do not measure what they claim to measure.

“They use a definition of eating out that is, at best, quirky and, at worst, misleading. ”

Backman said: “The concern is that this comes from government. It doesn’t help if it doesn’t understand a market it is supposed to be in charge of.”

National Statistics failed to respond to inquiries.

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