The UK food to go sector is forecast to grow by more than 6% per year for the next five years according to industry education charity IGD.

Total market value is expected to reach £23.5bn by 2022, up from £17.4bn in 2017, based on shoppers’ growing preference for eating on the move. While all operators in the sector are expected to share in this boom, food-to-go specialists and coffee shops are predicted to grow ahead of the market, while c-stores and forecourts are forecast to increase annual sales from £2.7bn currently to £3.6bn by 2022, an annualised growth rate of 6.1%.

IGD senior insight manager Gavin Rothwell said: “As shoppers become more sophisticated in their tastes and demands, so too does the UK’s food-to-go market. Across all our five market segments we’re seeing some highly innovative product and menu development, much of this inspired by shopper trends towards health and wellness and global flavours and tastes. Many operators are looking to tempt shoppers with ranges tailored to different times of day, while also improving the quality of their fresh food and coffee offers.

“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.

“Convenience and forecourt retailers have spotted a great opportunity in the food-to-go market and are now becoming increasingly active in this area, either through their own ranges or by teaming up with well-known brand names to add credibility. Younger shoppers are particularly likely to drive growth in these stores, with 18-25-year-olds twice as likely to buy food-to-go in convenience stores compared to their older counterparts,” he added.