The UK’s hunger for food-to-go shows no signs of abating with the latest forecasts claiming the sector will be worth £23.5 billion by 2022.
IGD claims that this impressive rise – up from £17.4 billion in 2017 – is largely attributed to consumer’s preference for eating on the move.
A combination of longer work days, busier lifestyles and breaking from the traditional three meal structure has seen an explosion in food to go.
The research splits the market into five segments, with the organisation’s latest forecasts suggesting particularly strong growth among specialist food-to-go retailers, which are set to overtake quick service restaurants to become the biggest part of the market in the next five years.
“Across all our five market segments we’re seeing some highly innovative product and menu development, much of this inspired by shopper trends towards health and wellness and global flavours and tastes,” said Gavin Rothwell, Senior Insight Manager at IGD.
He added: “Food-to-go specialists are really setting the pace on product innovation and range development, as well as expanding quite rapidly outside London, which is why we’re forecasting them to become the biggest part of the food-to-go market by the end of 2022.”
Although the growth will be dominated by retailers, IGD have cited other organisations diversifying their offering.
“There are also many newer players emerging and expanding across the UK in this segment,” Mr Rothwell said.
“Food is also a growing focus amongst coffee specialists, many of whom are now pushing the boundaries with menu upgrades and ranges tailored to different times of day, especially breakfast.”
He added: “There’s also a wave of smaller chains and niche independents innovating in this part of the market, all of which is encouraging larger coffee specialists to innovate with their own ranges too.
For both food-to-go operators and suppliers, there’s plenty to play for.
“In future, we expect to see the five market segments we’ve identified become increasingly blurred, as specialists and grocery retailers continue to combine great fresh food-to-go ranges with excellent drinks offers that tick the boxes for shoppers when it comes to quality,” said Mr Rothwell.
“Suppliers to the food-to-go sector therefore have a great opportunity to work closely with retailers and specialists to create winning ranges that will ultimately meet more shoppers’ needs, making their lives easier.”