Estimated to be worth around £16.1bn, the food-to-go market is one of the leading sectors in the UK food industry.
Incorporating items including sandwiches, wraps, salads, pies, pasties and sausage rolls, the ease and speed of which you can purchase and consume each item are huge factors in their popularity.
Taking just five minutes to purchase and 15 minutes to serve, food-to-go is quick, convenient and readily available on most high streets around the country.
With the choice and flavours on offer continuing to grow, it seems there is no end of options on the table for hungry consumers looking for a speedy lunch.
And with people leading increasingly busy lives, there are plenty of opportunities for foodservice operators to take advantage of the move towards a grazing culture with less defined lunch breaks.
Due to all these reasons, the food-to-go sector is booming and has evolved quickly over the last few years.
However, with competition in the food-to-go sector being fierce, it is vital that outlets stay ahead of the game and embrace the latest food and flavour trends.
Despite the fact that these two stalls are in Singapore, the quality of food-to-go served from street stalls across the UK is getting better all the time as outlets bid to stay ahead of the competition and attract trade.
As well as convenience, consumers with little time to spare also crave food which is innovative, fresh and tasty, but without the expense. With this in mind, food-to-go outlets are improving their offering to cater for this demand.
Adding flavour twists, better quality ingredients and using a little imagination, outlets are able to serve up delicious, yet simple, food-to-go. From burgers to hot dogs, fries to salads, every food-to-go option can be given a gourmet upgrade, whether it’s the addition of a sauce, toping or an alternative, innovative extra ingredient.
The demand for the addition of spice also shows no signs of waning, with consumers being tempted by Mexican, Japanese, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern flavours.
Indeed, outlets selling wraps, burritos, sushi, noodles and even sandwiches and salads incorporating these flavour trends are common on high streets across the country.
Furthermore, there is also a growing demand for healthy options, with the healthy snack market in the UK estimated to be worth £1.1 billion.
An increasing number of outlets are serving up food-to-go to cater for this demand, with the focus on superfoods and the nutritional value that the ingredients provide.
There has also been a demand for free-from (dairy, gluten, soya, egg, nuts, wheat, etc) products, with businesses keen to highlight the fact that they offer such food to potential customers.
With the pace of modern life showing no sign of slowing, the demand for quick and easy food solutions will only grow.
Due to this, online ordering will continue to gain more and more importance for food-to-go operators, as they look to increase the speed at which they can serve customers.
In addition, businesses will also be able to use data from online orders to monitor trends and customer preferences, in turn providing opportunities for tailored marketing.
Outlets will also need to stay in touch with the latest flavour trends, adjusting their offering accordingly, as well as maintaining, or even exceeding, the quality expected by consumers.
Food-to-go operators should also look to encourage add-on sales through meal deals, which also help to drive the perception of value for money.
As long as food-to-go outlets continue to evolve to cater for changing consumer demands, the sector will go from strength to strength and ensure the nation is always well fed during the lunchtime rush.
MVH Media Ltd | Group Editor