The latest 12-week report from TWC’s MealTrak programme shows that food to go occasions within the convenience channel grew at a faster pace than the total market.

Nisa Extra Virginia Quays_Food to go

There were a total of 807 million eating out of home occasions in the 12 w/e 11 July 2022, which is 9% higher than in 2021 and, within this, food to go occasions were up 6%. The convenience channel saw an increase of 18% in the last 12 weeks versus 2021 and forecourts enjoyed a rise of 17%. Multiples also saw strong growth of +63% and discounters were up 27%, while sandwich shops, coffee shops, fast food and takeaway were all in decline.

Out of home value sales were up 24% on a 52 week/MAT basis and +19% on a 12 week ending basis versus 2021.

Tom Fender, development director at TWC, said: “The market has slowed as the impact of economic shocks bites, with growth dipping under 2% over the last four weeks, but the wider recovery remains solid, with both occasions and value making strong gains over 12- and 52-weekly periods across both FTG and Eating Out.

“Encouragingly, for the moment at least, value growth remains ahead of occasions, indicating that spends are holding up and consumers are continuing to seek rewarding experiences rather than trying down on prices and functionality. That said, in FTG we are seeing the strongest growth in the Multiple and Convenience sectors, whilst Coffee shops and GTG Specialists are flat and Takeaways have fallen back.

“Consumer missions are also beginning to show some movement in response to current inflationary and economic pressures, with a higher proportion of consumers looking for FTG products which are ‘Not too expensive’ (7.6% of all primary FTG missions over the latest 12 weeks vs. 6.5% over the latest 52 weeks and 6.0% over the previous year) or ‘Quick & easy’ (21.7% latest 12 weeks vs. 18.9% 52 weeks and 16.7% previous year). Allied with a corresponding fall in demand for Hot FTG (weather-related), Treats and Cravings, missions which grew significantly during Covid.

“At Category level, we are seeing strong growth in the traditional ‘Meal Deal’ product groups (Sandwiches, crisps & snacks, soft drinks) and Hot Drinks, alongside above average growth in treaties sectors such as Confectionery and Cakes and pastries. Categories underperforming are led by FTG Hot meals, Soups and Cereals.

“Interestingly (and unusually) growth is currently being driven by older consumers now retiring to the market, especially 45 - 64s, where growth is much stronger than for the younger age groups across both FTG and Eating Out (Millennials and Gen Z are generally the trailblazers). Over 65’s have yet to return to FTG whilst Eating Out, which had been recovering well in this age group, has dropped away over the latest 12 weeks, perhaps because this age group is more vulnerable to the impact of rising costs.

“Similarly, over the last 12 months growth in all channels has been driven more by women than men, but this has reversed over the last 12 weeks, with women too perhaps changing their behaviour more rapidly in response to current economic pressures.”