Retail continues to outperform specialists in food-to-go market

Photo: Thomas Hawk/

The number of out-of-home eating occasions has increased by four per cent year on year in the 12 weeks to 31 October, according to the latest MealTrak data.

On value terms, the out-of-home market has seen 12 per cent increase in this period, reflecting an inflationary market.

On a 52 week/MAT basis, eating occasions and value were 15 per cent and 30 per cent higher than the comparable period in 2021, respectively.

Retail channels performed well, with convenience stores (+seven per cent), discounters (+six per cent) and forecourts (+nine per cent) are also all outperforming the total market in the number of eating occasions. The multiples, with their more affordable food-to-go offer, remained the clear winners, with steady and significant growth (+24 per cent in the latest 12 weeks).

Tom Fender

“This aligns with consumers’ continued search for value, with the need for ‘something not too expensive’ continuing to rise strongly. We are also seeing consumers sticking with what they know – ‘regular favourite’ (+17 per cent) significantly outperforms ‘something a bit different’ (-22 per cent),” Tom Fender, development director at wholesale experts TWC, commented.

The “eating out” channel, comprising pubs, restaurants and hotels, also outperformed total food-to-go at eight per cent vs the previous year, however the growth rate continues to slow. Growth in “eating out” is driven by pubs (+37 per cent), while restaurants are in decline (-10 per cent).

“‘Eating out’ continues to outperform ‘food to go’, this is driven by pubs, which appear to be resonating well with consumers as an affordable option for evening meals,” Fender said.

Sandwich shops (-five per cent), fast food & takeaway (-10 per cent), high street (-22 per cent) and transportation (-two per cent) are all in decline meanwhile coffee shops and cafes have returned to modest growth (+two per cent) in the latest 12 weeks.

“For the first time in quite some time, coffee shops have returned to a positive trend (+two per cent). Following the pandemic there was an inevitable decline in this sector as workers embraced hybrid work patterns. However, with energy cost rises, it is possible that some work-from-home days are being replaced by working from venues such as coffee shops,” Fender said