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RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, UK
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Food-to-go market up by £2.5 billion since mid-2015, report says

The NPD Group says foodservice operators can make money from Britons’ “voracious appetite” for eating on the go.

Consumers are increasingly eating pre-prepared food and drink on-the-go, now one of the fastest-growing areas of Britain’s out-of-home (OOH) foodservice industry according to The NPD Group.

Latest research from the market research company says there were 4.4 billion on-premise visits, a drop of -3.5% compared to 5.1 billion food-to-go visits, an increase of +2% for the year ending July 2018.

Since July 2015, ‘food-to-go’ visits have increased +4.0% with the market increasing by £2.5 billion.

NPD explains that the consumption of food and beverages on the premises represents 42% of the 11.3 billion OOH annual foodservice visits in Britain. Food-to-go, on the other hand, represents around 48%, while delivery covers 6% and drive-thru accounts for 4%.

This means that over half of Britain’s foodservice industry visits involve consumers carrying food and drink away from the point of purchase or getting other people to carry food and drink to them.

“The lion’s share is ‘food-to-go’ and 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,” Dominic Allport, Insights Director with The NPD Group, said. “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.”

Is eating on public transport the next big trend?
The report also mentions that around 20% of visits result in food and beverages consumed back in the workplace, or at school/college. However, 8% of visits see food or drink making it no further than the car while some 7% eat or drink while walking along the street or sitting in a public space such as a park.

Overall, more than 292 million foodservice visits result in food being consumed on public transport. NPD says that this might be “the next big trend.”

“It’s a small total right now (3%) but consumption of food and drink on public transport is growing five times faster than the overall ‘food-to-go’ trend,” NPD said.

When looking at dayparts, they also see ‘food-to-go’ eating into breakfast (50% of all visits), lunch (48% of visits), and snacking (59% of visits). 37% of all dinner visits, meanwhile, comprised of food consumed on the move.

“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. There’s no doubt that foodservice operators are grasping the ‘food-to-go’ opportunity by offering increasingly appetizing and healthy options,” Allport added. 

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