Suppliers of scotch eggs have reported a surge in demand after ministers said they classed as a “substantial meal”, thereby allowing people to order alcohol alongside them in pubs.
The food wholesaler Brakes, which works with 50,000 pubs across the UK, has seen a 10-fold increase in demand for the pork and breadcrumb-covered eggs since the lockdown in England ended last week.
The snack was thrust to the centre of national debate at the start of the month when ministers disagreed over whether or not it should constitute a “substantial meal” in tier 2 areas of the country.
Micheal Gove had initially said scotch eggs were only a starter (he later backtracked), with cabinet colleague George Eustice causing further confusion by telling LBC it “would count as a substantial meal if there were table service”.
Ministers have since confirmed scotch eggs do qualify as an appropriately sized meal, meaning the 30 million people living under tier 2 rules can buy alcohol in pubs if they order one.
Following the clarification, scotch egg suppliers have been inundated with inquiries about the morsel, as pubs notice a considerable increase in customers requesting them inside venues.
Scotch & Co, which supplied about 130,000 scotch eggs to UK pubs and delicatessens last year, said sales had risen by 25% this month and that national chains have contacted them about orders.
Jacqui Davidson, the company’s director, told the Financial times: “We have six full-time staff and were looking at the possibility of having to furlough two of those, but it’s not even a consideration now. It’s all hands on deck.”
Lockdowns and strict tier restrictions have devastated many hospitality venues that mostly sell drinks, with figures compiled by the British Beer & Pub Association showing that sales across UK pubs were down 84% last weekend compared with 2019 levels.
Under the current rules in England, pubs in tier 3 are shut apart from takeaways and deliveries, while the “substantial food” rule does not apply in tier 1 areas. Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, meanwhile, have differing rules regarding hospitality.
In reaction to the growing popularity of scotch eggs, some pub groups are now considering adding it to their menus to boost trade.
Ralph Findlay, the chief executive of Marston’s, which operates more than 1,700 pubs and bars across England and Wales, reportedly said he was assessing whether the “spike in demand” was genuine.