For the last few years, the food-to-go sector has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK’s food industry. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the sector was continually outperforming the wider eating out market, as consumers sought convenience and variety for food when out and about. It’s also a sector battling food waste: abundantly stocked cabinets create an attractive look that appeals to on-the-go customers, but this aesthetic often results in high levels of end-of-shift surplus.
Predictions made by MCA and HIM in February 2020 indicated that the market was set to grow by 2.7% in 2020 to reach a value of £21.7bn. For comparison, the top 10 brands in the food-to-go sector grew their sales by 5.6% in 2019; grocery operators saw their sales rise by just 0.7%.
The potential growth for the sector undoubtedly led to even more food-to-go businesses launching, increasing competition to attract customers and positively impacting sales revenue.
Now, an even greater threat to the sector has appeared. The outbreak of Covid-19 has rocked the entire hospitality retail landscape. Consumer habits have been forced to change, and it’s hard to judge how consumers will react as life continues to return to ‘normal’. All this puts extra pressure on businesses and directly impacts food waste levels.
This report delves deeper into the food-to-go sector and its key stakeholders. The research investigates how consumers shop when it comes to food on the go, and how this behaviour impacts food waste. It also delves deeper into the minds of food-to-go employees to understand how food waste is impacting their businesses in the current climate.