Nearly one in three (31%) consumers would eat out more if healthier options were more readily available, according to new IGD research.

A survey of more than 9,000 people found that retailers should focus on value perception – 59% felt it’s more expensive to eat healthily when out of home - and making healthy food more accessible in store, in order to drive out-of-home eating.

When offered a range of options to make finding healthy food easier, the largest proportion of consumers recommended a dedicated selection of healthy options clearly marked in-store or on the menu (35%).

“Our research shows that when grabbing food on the go, people usually revert to the easiest option, so if finding something healthy requires special effort they are less likely to do so,” said Rhian Thomas, head of shopper insight at IGD.

“The answer for different retailers could vary by format, customer base and even time of day, to make it as simple as possible to signpost consumers to seek out healthier options.”

The research also found that 34% of respondents avoid some outlets because they don’t offer healthy enough food, while 39% cite health as one of their top three drivers when choosing lunch out of home.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: “Our new research, the first of its kind into the out-of-home sector, focuses on two powerful trends at play in today’s market: eating out, and eating well. Eating out of home plays a significant part in the national diet and at the same time, interest in health and eating healthily is growing.

”Many food and drink companies already view health as a hugely important part of their strategy, but there is a clear commercial opportunity for businesses to take the lead in this area.”