UK food-to-go industry set to grow by £6bn in five years as consumer habits shift

By Tom Wadlow
A strengthening trend shift in consumer habits is driving change in the UK food industry, as food-to-go retailers look set to cash in and overtake quick...

A strengthening trend shift in consumer habits is driving change in the UK food industry, as food-to-go retailers look set to cash in and overtake quick service restaurants (QSRs).  

The UK’s food-to-go sector will be worth £23.5bn by 2022, up from £17.4bn in 2017, according to IGD, as shoppers’ preference for eating on the move shows no signs of slowing down.

IGD’s food-to-go research splits the market into five segments, with the organisation’s latest forecasts suggesting particularly strong growth among specialist food-to-go retailers such as Greggs, Subway, Pret, EAT and Leon, which are set to overtake quick service restaurants (QSRs) to become the biggest part of the market in the next five years.

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Gavin Rothwell, Senior Insight Manager at IGD, commented: “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.

“In addition to the well-known high street names, there are several new players emerging in this segment as well. Health and wellness is a particularly big focus for these specialists, with three-quarters (76%) of shoppers satisfied with the choice of healthy options available in-store, higher than any other segment of the food-to-go market.

Although we expect food-to-go specialists to become the biggest part of the market by 2022, QSRs are also set to grow well over the next five years, with 83% of the food-to-go shoppers who visit these stores satisfied with their overall experience.

“Many QSR chains are updating their menus and reinventing the in-store experience to bring in more technology, creating a more premium look and feel to appeal to younger consumers. There are also many newer players emerging and expanding across the UK in this segment.”

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