Five principles for success in food-to-go

Date : 02 December 2016

At our first ever Food-to-Go conference in London last week, we heard from 12 speakers from across the market to get their perspectives on this exciting area and what it takes to win. Here’s our five key take outs:

1. Ignore the food-to-go opportunity at your peril

Shoppers are already heavily integrating food-to-go missions into how they buy food and drink. Our research predicts growth of 35% over the next 5 years, meaning the UK market will be worth over £21bn by 2021. Patrick Coveney, CEO of Greencore, gave a fascinating insight into how his business has placed all its bets on food-to-go in recent years, highlighting the strategic shift that this has required, but also the rapid growth it has delivered. A deep understanding of the customer should lie at the heart of any food-to-go strategy: Mike Absolom from BP highlighted this to great effect, giving some fascinating perspectives on the importance of meeting the needs of contrasting customer groups within the same outlet.

2. Identify your specific food-to-go opportunity

Across the industry we see varying strategies around food-to-go, as suppliers target distinct segments of the market and distinct missions. We heard a great example of this from Propercorn’s Rosie Joly. She explained how Propercorn, with a great record of success in supplying food-to-go specialists, is now increasing its focus on food-to-go missions in convenience stores.

Further reflecting the expanse of the food-to-go opportunity, Mark Kassapian from Compass’ 24 shared its innovative micro-market approach to serving the food-to-go mission in the workplace. This fully self-serve solution provides both hot and cold meal options as well as snacks and drinks to workers across all parts of the day, serving a broad set of food-to-go missions.

3. Some of the biggest successes have been driven by deep partnerships

Ágúst Gudmundsson from Bakkavor and Stuart Forder from M&S outlined how their working relationship has developed over the last four decades. They explained the common pillars that are at the heart of their partnership, helping them to ensure that they are delivering for the shopper and continuously innovating.

Susan Barratt from Natures Way Foods and Simon Allison from Pret provided another great example of a longstanding relationship. They shared how their approach is based on a core set of shared values, going well beyond a transactional relationship, enabling them to work with each other as true partners to drive a virtuous circle of growth and continuous development.

4. Think of food-to-go as the new convenience

While our research predicts significant growth for the market over the next five years the opportunity is already here. Debbie Robinson and Olivia Basten from SPAR talked about the changing nature of missions within the convenience channel with food-to-go in growth particularly amongst younger groups of shoppers. They shared examples of the different solutions developed and implemented across the SPAR estate to meet these shopper needs, ranging from in-store concessions with Greggs and Subway, to unique solutions such as EAT17.

5. Aligning with missions and changing shopper needs is key to success

IGD research has identified five key food-to-go missions;




Our research shows that, on average, a food-to-go shopper is completing over 300 of these different missions a year. John Want from Adelie emphasised the importance of continuously developing your understanding of the food-to-go shopper and their missions and the importance of looking beyond the hard data to achieve genuine insight.

Leendert den Hollander from Coca Cola European Partners highlighted how the targeting of the different food-to-go missions and occasions can lead to potential growth. He also gave his perspective on some of the innovations that will drive future food-to-go development, covering aspects such as personalisation, online sampling, social media interaction, the focus on occasions and building the right portfolio of products to meet changing shopper needs.

These are just some of the highlights of what was shared on the day. The opportunity and potential in food-to-go was apparent throughout all of the presentations.

Want to find out more about food-to-go shoppers, missions and global best practice?

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