Convenience store “grab and go” offerings and sandwich/bakery retailers are expected to enjoy the highest levels of growth in the entire food to go market over the next three years, according to MCA.

The 2018 edition of the firm’s Food to Go Market Report predicts that the market is set to grow by 2.8% to a value of £20.7bn during the year, outpacing the expected 1.5% growth in eating out as a whole. This compares to growth levels of 3.8% and 1.7% for 2017, achieved against a background of rising prices and falling consumer confidence.

Food to go is expected to continue growing at around 3.5% a year for the next three years, following the trend for employment as a whole, with more than £400m worth of growth achievable through the convenience store sector.

Tesco currently has the largest food to go market share with 6.7% of the market, more than either McDonald’s (3.9%) or Subway (3.8%). MCA reports that, among those shoppers who say they are spending less on food to go, 61% are buying products on promotion and 55% are visiting cheaper outlets. When asked what shoppers wanted to see in food to go over the next three years, 40% requested more healthy food choices, with 12.8% looking for specifically vegetarian and vegan options.

Speaking at MCA’s Food to Go conference last week, executive director Simon Stenning said: “Weakening consumer confidence is affecting the food to go market now, but this will pick up and we will see growth again in the future, led by demand for healthier eating, technology-led convenience and affordable sustainability.”

For more information on the report, please visit the preview page.