Pub operators must forget food if they want to make profit, according to the majority of attendees at an Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) conference in Brighton last week.
At a conference debate held in front of an audience of 100 operators, 55 voted to carry the motion that they needed to forget food to make a profit.
Before the debate, 47 were in favour of food as a profit driver while just 24 believed that they needed to forget food with 29 abstaining.
Nick Bish, chief executive of the ALMR, said the debate was pitched to be deliberately provocative.
Peter Hansen, principal of financial advisers PC Hansen & Co, added: "The supply is going to exceed demand quite soon and unless everyone starts to have four meals a day I don't see how it's going to work."
Eddy Passey, operations director of Interpub bar chain Belushi's, said the logistics behind food production were just not economical.
"Catering requires skills and the average pub just cannot do the sales to afford a cook and a kitchen porter let alone all the hardware needed to keep the Environment Health Officer happy."
However, Hamish Stoddart, co-founder of Peach Pub Company, warned that operators would "forget food at their peril".
Dan Marlow, operations director of value food at Spirit, concurred: "The future is food is because of its growth potential, because of increasing consumer affluence, because women make the choices and because the Government wants it."
By Christopher Walton