The UK food-to-go market is forecast to grow by 4.1% in 2023, to reach a total value of £22.2 billion, according to the latest Food to Go Market Report 2023 from food industry research and analyst Lumina Intelligence.
The report also shows that outlet growth is expected to be its strongest since pre-pandemic, up 0.9% – a net gain of 1,397 sites to reach 152,120.
Meanwhile, food-to-go penetration has increased by 0.7% year-on-year, but frequency has declined.
The report also highlights that spend has increased by 12% during the 12 weeks ending 26th December 2021, driven up by inflation and the easing of coronavirus restrictions. However, more consumers are having food-to-go occasions this year, but are doing so less frequently due to the mounting cost of living pressures and the increase in price of food-to-go occasions.
While retail has seen the largest increase in share of food-to-go occasions year-on-year, QSR has seen the largest decline, with a 1% drop, as food price inflation leads to higher prices and consumers trade down to retail.
Players across sandwich & bakery, convenience store grab & go, and fast food are capitalising on opportunities for more diverse estates by introducing travel hubs, FTG-focused, and drive-thru locations, respectively.
According to the report, sustainability is also becoming an increasingly important factor in consumers’ choices, with 66% of consumers being very sustainably conscious. Environmental concerns and a desire for more sustainable diets have driven an increase in vegan seafood. Wagamama now offers a vegan chilli squad on its menu, while Loma Linda has expanded the distribution of its vegan tuna alternative to Co-op. Fish and chip operators have here a potential opportunity to increase their reach towards these sustainably conscious consumers.
Furthermore, consumers are becoming more value-driven, with a 3% increase year-on-year among those purchasing food to go, due to cost of living pressures and rising food prices, leading to less discretionary spending power. Value scrutiny has led to a 1% in retail food to go, as consumers trade down to cheaper meal options. Operators can tap into the demand for value by offering meal deals to compete with retail offerings.
The report also noted that food-only purchases have increased by 4.2 percentage points year-on-year, as consumers look to minimise spend by foregoing drink purchases.
Commenting on the report, senior insights manager Katherine Prowse, said: “Our latest Food to Go Market Report highlights the ongoing importance of value, sustainability and innovation in this fast-paced sector. As inflation continues to impact consumers’ discretionary spending power, operators that are able to provide value for money, whilst remaining sustainable and innovative, are likely to succeed in this competitive market.”
Click here for more information on The Lumina Intelligence Food to Go Market Report 2023.