Food-to-go Developments and Trends

09/12/2016 16:12:22

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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.

Street food

One food-to-go trend that continues to grow in popularity, is that of street food.

From burgers to wraps, noodles to hot sandwiches, there is no end of options that can be served up from pop-up venues.

Convenient and handheld, it’s no wonder that around 2.5 million people worldwide consume street food on a daily basis.

And many of the tasty street food flavours from abroad are arriving on our shores.

However, quality is also a factor when it comes to choosing what you eat and the quality of street food is most definitely on the rise.

This was highlighted recently by the news that two street food vendors were awarded Michelin stars.

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.

Gourmet food-to-go

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.

Latest trends

As outlets continue to compete for customers with new and innovative products, the choice of food and flavours is growing all the time.

Gaining inspiration from cuisines and flavours from all around the world, food-to-go options are no longer limited to bland burgers, sandwiches, hotdogs and salads.

Recently there has been a surge in demand for food with American-inspired barbeque flavours. With intense smoky flavours, it’s easy to see the attraction of such food.

Another growing trend from the US is combining sweet and savoury, with jam and maple syrup being added to products such as hot dogs, chicken and bacon to provide an extra flavour hit.

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.

The future

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.


Steven Jones

MVH Media Ltd | Group Editor

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