Food to go in convenience retail is forecast to continue its growth over the next three years, but its share of the total UK market will decline, according to the MCA and HIM Food To Go Market Report 2020.

Londis Yealmpton

MCA Insight & HIM head of insight, Blonnie Walsh, said offering a wider variety of food-to-go products in convenience was vital to mitigate an anticipated drop in footfall.

The overall food to go market will continue to outperform the total UK eating out market and grow 2.7% in 2020 to a value of £21.7bn, the report found.

Within convenience retail, the sector is forecast to grow £475m over the next three years, from £6.2bn in 2019 to £6.7bn in 2023, but its share of the total market will drop to 28.3% by 2023.

Convenience retail remains the number one channel for lunch and snack occasions, but share of snack occasions is slipping to coffee shops/cafés, according to the report.

Walsh said: “Convenience retail continues to be the biggest shareholder of the UK food to go market, highlighting strong demand from consumers and considerable growth opportunities for retailers – particularly with the £475m growth forecast over the next three years.

“However, frequency is declining and with participation arguably reaching its peak, retailers are under pressure to find ways of increasing spend to mitigate a drop in FTG footfall.

“Value for money continues to grow in importance and is an area that is considered synonymous with convenience retail in the context of food to go. In particular, meal deals are the number one mechanic for promotions. However, foodservice specialists are using innovation and technology to improve their offer beyond the traditional meal deal that has remained a staple within a c-store offering.”

She added that health had “changed the landscape” of food to go, with growth occurring in vegetarian and vegan options, as well as other dietary requirements.

“In fact, 15% of FTG visitors have dietary requirements, so failure to offer a wider, more diverse range will see frequency continue to fall,” she said.