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Food-to-go market growing three times as fast as on-premise spend

The food-to-go market has become one of the fastest growing segments of Britain’s out-of-home (OOH) foodservice industry, as Britons increasingly eat pre-prepared food and drink on-the-go.

Latest figures from global information company, The NPD Group, showed that off-premise consumption (excluding delivery and drive thru) was growing while on-premise was shrinking. For the year ending (YE) July 2018, there were 4.4 billion on-premise visits, a drop of 3.5%, versus 5.1 billion food-to-go visits, an increase of 2%. Since July 2015, food-to-go visits have increased 4.0% and the market has increased by £2.5bn since mid-2015 – three times as fast as on-premise spend.

On-premise dining represents 42% of the 11.3 billion OOH annual foodservice visits in Britain. Food-to-go represents around 48%, while delivery covers an extra 6% and drive thru accounts for 4%. This suggests 58% of Britain’s foodservice industry visits involve consumers carrying food and drink away from the point of purchase or getting other people to deliver it to them.

Around 20% of visits result in food and beverages consumed back in the workplace, or at school/college. But 8% of visits see food or drink making it no further than the car – that’s the same as each Briton eating or drinking in their car 14 times a year. Some 7% eat or drink while walking along the street or sitting in a public space such as a park.

More than 292 million foodservice visits result in food being consumed on public transport. While this represents 3% of consumers, it suggests the consumption of food and drink on public transport is growing five times faster than the overall food-to-go trend. Breakfast accounts for 50% of food-to-go visits, 43% for lunch and 59% for snacking. Some 37% of all dinner visits comprise of food consumed on the move.

Dominic Allport, insights director with The NPD Group, said: “Food-to-go reflects how consumers are trying to save time and money. For many of us, working life means rushing to our workplace and then rushing around again during meal breaks. Food-to-go is an integral part of our lifestyle and underlines how much we are keeping an eye on the clock….and on our wallets.

“A generation ago, food-to-go might stretch little further than a sausage roll, a bag of chips, a cheeseburger, a sandwich or a cream bun. Today’s offerings inject innovation, portability and ease-of-consumption across a huge range of international hot and cold cuisines to create exciting meals, snacks and beverages for any time of day.”

He added: “There’s no doubt that foodservice operators are grasping the food-to-go opportunity by offering increasingly appetising and healthy options.”

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