Exploring the food-to-go opportunity in convenience

Date : 01 October 2018

I have just spent the last two days at our Convenience Summit hearing and seeing some great concepts, experiences and ideas about how the channel can meet the needs of the different food-to-go missions and maximise the market opportunity. 

So firstly, how big could the food-to-go opportunity be for the convenience sector?

In total we predict that the UK food-to-go sector will reach £22.8bn by 2023 with convenience, forecourts and other retailers accounting for £3.6bn of this.  This works out at an annual growth rate of about 4.9% each year. This is significantly ahead of the wider convenience market, and more widely is indicative of the growing impetus among convenience retailers to upgrading capability around food-to-go.

Putting food-to-go missions into context

There has not been any significant changes year on year in the most popular convenience store missions with top-up and food-to-go missions being the most common.

Missions claimed to be conducted on shoppers' last c-store shop

Source: ShopperVista, 1,024 All Convenience store shoppers, March-May’18. 

However, our food-to-go study from earlier this year showed that half of all food-to-go shoppers (52%) have visited a convenience store to complete a food-to-go mission in the last four weeks.

So what matters to convenience food-to-go shoppers?

As with nearly all shopping missions the core shopper needs remain the same for food-to-go:

  1. The need for great value……good quality products at fair prices
  2. The need for good choice and availability…. the right range of food and drink products to go when shoppers want them
  3. Making it easy for shoppers …. through speedy and efficient service

How can convenience stores get set for the food-to-go shopper of the future?

1.    Meet their needs when it comes to health

There is significant interest in expanded ranges of vegetarian, vegan, gluten and dairy free food-to-go products.

2.      Make the most of the breadth of food-to-go missions

Food-to-go products are increasingly featuring as part of evening meal solutions so stretching the possible day parts these products can feature in.

3.    Make it easy for food-to-go shoppers

Speed of service is an important driver of store choice for more than 9 out of every 10 food-to-go shoppers. We know from our Shoppers of the Future research that the desire to optimise their time is a key shopper trend to watch and this absolutely applies to food-to-go. Providing solutions that mean shoppers can optimise how they spend their time will become increasingly important.

Want to find out more about how to meet the needs of food-to-go shoppers?

At our food-to-go event on November 8th we’ll be sharing some of our latest food-to-go shopper research. We will be joined by Patrick Coveney from Greencore, Compass’ Louise Pilkington and Suzie Walker from Primal Pantry will be sharing their views as to how to keep up with and meet the needs of the evolving food-to-go shopper. They’ll be joined by the likes of Sainsbury’s, Fresh the Good Food Market, Nature’s Way Foods and Pure in a session designed to help you understand the shape of future food-to-go growth.

Rhian Thomas

Rhian Thomas

Head of Shopper Insight

Discover the opportunities these changing consumption patterns create for your business and category. We’ll share our new research at Food-to-Go 2018.