Food-to-go in the UK offers significant opportunities for growth, according to the latest figures from the food and grocery research and training charity IGD, which is unveiling new research into the market for the first time.
Driven by changing shopper lifestyles, IGD is anticipating the market to be worth £16.1bn in 2016, up by 6.8% from 2015.
IGD analysis splits the UK food-to-go market into five different segments:
• Coffee specialists (worth £2.7bn) have continued to expand, experimenting with new lunchtime options, food in the evening and seasonal ranges
• QSR, or quick service restaurants (worth £5bn), have also evolved. Premium burger chains have been expanding, while many operators have been increasing their focus on health and nutrition with more salad and fruit ranges
• Food-to-go specialists (worth £4.6bn) have been growing their scale and impact, with more of them moving outside London, introducing new health-driven brands and using technology to personalise the shopper experience
• Many convenience, forecourt and other retailers (worth £2.5bn) have introduced specialist food-to-go counters in their stores and focused on the different times of day shoppers purchase food-to-go
• Supermarkets and hypermarkets (worth £1.2bn) have been trialling new formats and ideas in-store, moving food-to-go beyond the traditional sandwich, snack and drink deal
IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: “Food-to-go represents a strong opportunity for suppliers, but it’s a different market to grocery retail, requiring a very distinct approach to succeed. Suppliers looking to expand into this area must first and foremost broaden their understanding of the different types of food-to-go shopper. What drives them to purchase? What excites them? How can you work with your food-to-go customers to keep shoppers coming back for more? Those suppliers who really develop their knowledge of this unique market will be best placed to make the most of the growth opportunities available.”
IGD’s shopper research has identified five key ‘missions’, or occasions, for food-to-go shoppers; lunch, breakfast, snacking, leisure and drinks:
• Lunch is the most popular reason for buying food on-the-go; 70% of shoppers bought something for this occasion in the last month
• 28% bought something on-the-go for breakfast in the last month
• 45% bought a snack on-the-go in the last month
• Almost a third (32%) of leisure food-to-go shoppers bought a drink, snack or sandwich to eat in or relax
• Supermarkets (30%) followed by convenience stores (23%) are the most popular places to purchase a drink on-the-go
Denney-Finch added: “There are some really clear development opportunities for food-to-go in the UK, driven by the growth of little and often shopping, the rise in popularity of street food and coffee culture, and shoppers’ increasingly flexible lifestyles. Many suppliers are now starting to expand beyond grocery retail and food-to-go could present them with considerable opportunities. IGD is now looking to support these suppliers, as we develop our own coverage of this dynamic market, its key players and its shoppers.”