Food at British service stations ripe for improvement

9Families looking for tasty, good value while travelling up and down British motorway are being taken for a ride, according to motorists group the RAC. I agree.

Such travellers are a captive audience and desire and deserve a better deal when they break their journey whether having a comfort break, recharging with a capucino or stretching their legs after thrashing up the M5.

For a family of four to eat a quick, relatively basic meal together, the bill can easily pass the £40 mark, and even then, motorists tell us that the food on offer in some cases just doesn’t meet the mark, says the RAC.

“There is an alternative model out there – the motorway services offered by the Westmorland Family company at Tebay Services on the M6 in Cumbria and at their new Gloucester Services on the M5.

“They have taken a very different approach, sourcing good quality ingredients from the local area, producing home-cooked food which many consider to provide better value for money, as well as being a better quality and possibly healthier option.”

The RAC research found the main reason drivers stop at motorway service areas is to visit food outlets (75%) – second only to answering a call of nature (99%).

Of these, more than half (56%) say they do not find visiting services a pleasurable experience and a further 88% believe they represent poor value for money, while 46% only rated customer service at motorway services as average.

There is a real opportunity to provide better value for money and transform the experience for visitors, who may then be more inclined to increase the amount they spend.

The experience of motorists of services in the UK contrasts strongly with their views on driving elsewhere in Europe. Sixty per cent of those surveyed said the overall approach to services and rest areas was better in Europe.

Parking restrictions and expensive fuel just add to frustrations of motorists calling at British service stations.

RAC spokesman Pete Williams says: “Millions of motorists depend on motorway service areas for a well-earned rest, and it is important for their safety and that of other road users that they take regular breaks so they are not tired when behind the wheel. But motorists feel they are being seriously let down by what they see as overpriced products and a lack of good service to match those premium prices.

“Motorists resent having to pay over the odds for food while on a journey, especially when they don’t even enjoy the experience and are already being held to ransom by high fuel prices at service stations,” he says.

Here at Lemonaste, we have to agree! Campaign for better food, better service and better facilities at Britain’s service stations.

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.

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