Convenience store retailers offering food service could do well to nurture their over-50s customers because this age group will increase in number, become wealthier, more active and more experimental than previous generations, new research from The NPD Group suggests.

Britain’s older consumers could support growth in eat-out lunch business in future years, and could be a catalyst to the development of new food choices that are better suited to the needs of people as they grow older, the global information company says.

The NPD Group notes the over-50s accounted for one billion out-of-home lunch visits in the year to June and they spent £6bn on lunch.

The number of visits are up 6% since 2008 and spend is up 12%.

The research says lunch is already growing faster than the overall eat-out market. The four billion overall lunch visits in the year to June were up 3% on the same period last year.

Lunch-to-go specifically, the area in which convenience stores have been capitalising, has enjoyed 4% growth. NPD says lunch on the go could generate nearly two billion visits annually by the end of 2019 – up 11% on the nearly 2 billion visits recorded for the year to the end of June 2017.

The NPD Group believes lunch to go could soon account for 53% of overall lunch visits and 19% of all out of home visits in Britain each year.

Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director at the NPD Group, said: “The over-50s demographic in Britain will grow in size and become wealthier, more active and more experimental than previous generations.

“For anybody running a business in Britain’s £54bn food service industry, there’s a distinct over-50s opportunity.”

People in late middle age and older would respond well to the innovative approach to lunchtime eating that existed on high streets.

“The over-50s represent an excellent target for the food service industry and will definitely play a bigger role in the growing popularity of eating lunch out of home,” said Lavenant.