Forecourts and motorway service stations are at the forefront in one of the top trends in food to go, according to Gavin Rothwell, senior retail insight manager at grocery research organisation IGD.
One of the trends he identifies is a move to target new locations. He said: “Many food-to-go specialists are now expanding to reach new types of shopper. For example, both Tossed and Pret are now present in motorway services, while Subway and Greggs are expanding across petrol forecourts, to target the on-the-go shopper.
“Other operators, such as Leon and Tortilla, are also opening stores outside London for the first time, to meet growing appetite for food-to-go outside the capital.”
He said another trend was driven by shoppers’ increasing awareness of health and wellness, explaining: “UK food-to-go shoppers are especially interested in products that suit particular diets, with 34% looking for a larger range of vegetarian products, 25% more dairy-free products and 23% seeking more vegan or gluten-free options.”
He said he also expected retailers to cater for more alternative missions: “By ‘alternative missions’, we mean food-to-go occasions beyond the classic options of coffee or lunch. Although many retailers and specialists are focusing their efforts on breakfast, this is a relatively small market and spend per trip can be quite modest. We’re therefore expecting to see a broader focus on alternative missions at different times of day – some of this might be for evening meals, but there may also be opportunities at other times of day, for example a post-work snack or post-gym energy boost.”
Technology is also going to have a greater impact, he predicted, saying: “Almost all shoppers (92%) think speed and efficiency of service is an important driver of deciding where to shop for food and drink, so we expect technology to play an even bigger role in food-to-go in the future. Outlets such as San Francisco’s Eatsa and London’s Inamo have completely transferred customers’ ordering experience to in-store tablets, and last year Starbucks introduced a remote ordering app – a technology we also expect to really grow in popularity.”