‘More exciting’ food-to-go products needed

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

More exciting food-to-go products needed to help manufacturers and retailers break into the £2.3bn market opportunity
More exciting food-to-go products needed to help manufacturers and retailers break into the £2.3bn market opportunity

Related tags: Convenience store

Food manufacturers and independent convenience retailers are being urged to offer more exciting ‘food-to-go’ choices to avoid missing out on the £2.3bn business opportunity.

Sales of sandwiches, sushi, salads and snacks grew 6.6% to £584M in the high street convenience multiples for the year ended March 25 2017, boosting revenues by £36M, latest figures by market research firm IRI showed.

Food-to-go sales at petrol stations and travel outlets rose by 2.9% to £185M, the figures also showed.

‘Slight decline’

But, independent convenience retailers, including Budgens, Londis, Spar, CostCutter and Nisa – which IRI suggested were more dependent on selling sandwiches – suffered a slight decline of -0.4% to £96M.

Across all retailers, higher priced items – including baguettes, salads and sushi – showed fastest growth.

Ready-to-eat salads grew 5.1% to £800M, while sushi sales grew by 12% to £100M.

Martin Wood, head of strategic retail insight at IRI, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that it had been difficult for food brands to establish a firm foothold in convenience, where sandwiches, sushi and salads were overwhelmingly own-label.

‘Innovate with new versions’

“There is an opportunity for food brands to work with the wholesale and buying group partners that distribute to the symbols and independents; in particular to innovate with new versions of their brands for the food-to-go space,” ​he said.

“Ginsters, for example, now provides ‘to go’ single serve pasties and pies, and Costa Coffee has made an imprint on many of the petrol forecourts and other convenience stores. In this sector, shoppers will be influenced by strong brands that could become a draw for shoppers into these stores.”

Meanwhile, in June, manufacturers were urged to innovate​ to take advantage of the growing food-to-go demand from millennials. New product development, aimed at 18 to 25-year-olds, was key to making the most of the market, which was estimated to reach £21bn within four years.

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