Can your customers grab and go? Or are you holding them back?
The food to go market almost disappeared during lockdown. With nowhere to go, there was no need for food to take with us. Our morning commute coffee was no more. Our busy diaries suddenly cleared meaning no need to grab a sandwich on the move. And with holidays cancelled, there was no need to pick up snacks for the journey. Instead, consumers embraced home cooking, food deliveries and meal kit subscriptions.
Back to business
However, an unrestricted 2022 is bringing the grab-and-go market back faster than you can swipe your Oyster card as people return to the office and reinstate busy lifestyles.
Being “out and about” is the second top reason a consumer will eat out of home, closely behind “having a treat” according to Lumina Intelligence.
The UK food-to-go market is set to make a full recovery +38.2% to £21.3billion this year alone (Lumina Intelligence, 2022) and is anticipated to reach £23billion in 2025 (IGD RetailAnalysis, 2022).
This growth won’t come without its challenges as operators face recruitment issues, rising costs and impending new legislation designed to tackle rising obesity levels. However, by tapping into healthier options and clever plant-based alternatives operators can excel in this arena. Food to go consumers are 6% more aligned to health values compared to the total eating out market (Lumina Intelligence, 2022) – often grabbing food as necessity, not for indulgence.
This is being reflected in NPD with almost a fifth of new products launching into the food to go market are low calorie or gluten free. After vegan (47.5%), the most popular dietary requirements in new products were calorie-controlled and gluten-free. This comes as no surprise as over 50% of consumers say they are trying to buy healthier snacks (Lumina Intelligence, 2022), with the pandemic exacerbating the demand for healthy eating.
Check in on your customer base – are they looking to cater to hungry tummies or to push the boat out with sharable treats?
And while we shirk off some of the habits we picked up during lockdown, it seems dining al fresco is something we’re not in a hurry to let go of which is good news for grab and go. 27% of people enjoyed a meal or drink outside in a public space during the pandemic and research suggests consumers are happy to keep this up as the cost of eating out increases. Grabbing some snacks and catching up with friends in the local park is deemed a more affordable way of socialising for the thousands being hit by rising living costs.
Having picnic-perfect pieces ready for customers to pick up when the sun shines.
On the go, 24/7
Increased day-part coverage is another opportunity for growth. The lines between breakfast, lunch and dinner are blurring. Breakfast is becoming brunch, dinners are being enjoyed later in the evening and lunch is often enjoyed on the move. Look at your serving times and customer patterns to make sure you’re offering the right thing, at the right time.
According to IGD RetailAnalysis, hot drinks remain the most commonly bought items on the go at breakfast (49% of shoppers) and it’s no surprise. We’ll need the caffeine to keep up with this revived social life! Make sure you’ve got some tempting takeaway treats to pick up alongside your customers’ caffeine and remember humans are creatures of habit – especially when it comes to the daily commute. Nearly 10% of consumers state they eat on the go because it’s part of their routine (Lumina Intelligence, 2022) and 13% say it’s part of their commute. Can you incentivise repeat custom with loyalty cards or apps? Or perhaps you don’t need to?
However you draw in the grab and go gang, efficiency is key. Check out Macphie’s range of ready-to-use, ambient sweet and savoury sauces – including vegan and plant-based options – to find out how you can build your back-of-house sauce foundations to create on-trend treats which are made to move.