Affordable deals drive food-to-go sales in multiples: TWC

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Food-to-go saw decline in convenience channel while multiples and the discounters emerged as clear winners, states a recent report, as Britons looked for “something inexpensive” in 12-week period ending Dec 26, 2022.

According to latest MealTrak result report published by Wholesale experts TWC Group, in partnership with MealTrak, multiples (+18 per cent) and the discounters (+19 per cent), with their more affordable food-to-go offer, remain clear winners. Forecourts are also performing well (+21 per cent), although convenience stores are in decline (-16 per cent).

Overall, food-to-go occasions saw a decline of 6 per cent as compared to same period in 2021.

Commenting on the results, Tom Fender, Development Director at TWC, said, “For the 12-week ending period to 26 December 2022, we saw eating out occasions fall by -5 per cent vs. the same period in 2021, a continuation of the trend of falling occasions that we have been reporting over the last couple of months. What is however a surprise is that value in the latest 12 weeks has also fallen into negative territory, against a backdrop of rising prices, with the ONS Consumer Prices Index at 10.5 per cent in December 2022.”

“From our data on consumers’ needs and missions, we know that for some time ‘something inexpensive’ has been a key growth driver, and this is also reflected in the outlets which are performing most strongly: the multiple grocers and the discounters. In these outlets, it’s possible to buy a food-to-go meal deal for under £4, in many cases less than this time last year, as retailers including Tesco and Co-op have introduced reduced prices for loyalty card holders.”

“With the cost of doing business sharply increasing, we must consider how sustainable these promotions are, and certainly it makes it hard for independent outlets to compete on price alone. With consumers also prioritising quick and easy solutions and ‘something sweet’, these could be other levers to pull,” Fender said.

The report also shows that number of out-of-home eating occasions were +10 per cent higher than the comparable period in 2021 on a 52 week/MAT basis. However, in the latest 12 weeks, the number of out-of-home eating occasions fell by -5 per cent vs. the equivalent period in 2021.

In the last 12 weeks, occasions in the ‘eating out’ channel (comprising pubs, restaurants and hotels) declined by -6 per cent vs. the previous year. Pubs continued to outperform (+3 per cent), whilst restaurants (-10 per cent) and hotels (-20 per cent) were in decline.

Sandwich shops (-10 per cent), coffee shops & cafes (-8 per cent), fast food & takeaway (-17 per cent), high street (-59 per cent) and transportation (-43 per cent) are all in decline.

Value sales are up +24 per cent on a 52 week/MAT but have declined by -2 per cent on a 12-week ending basis versus 2021. The decline in the last 12 weeks is surprising given the current high inflation