UK food to go market loses £6 billion due to coronavirus

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The UK’s food to go market is set to decline £6 billion this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic according to a new study.

However, Lumina Intelligence’s UK Food To Go Market Report 2020 Update Report forecasts a recovery to close to its 2019 level by the end of 2022.

Food to go experienced a decade of growth through the 2010’s, with Lumina Intelligence valuing the market at £21.3 billion for full year 2019, a growth of +2.4%.

As a result of Covid-19, the market is set to a decline by -29%, taking the market value to £15 billion.

Consequently, the share of the total eating out market held by food to go is set to increase to 27.4%, up from 23.3% in 2019.

The Government’s ‘stay at home’ message resulted in 60% of UK people working from home, causing a huge decline in footfall.

Blonnie Walsh, head of insight at Lumina Intelligence said, “The sudden shift from a highly transient, on-the-go society, to one with restrictions placed on movement has had a catastrophic impact on the UK food to go market.

“With much of the UK workforce working from home or furloughed, footfall in city centres nose-dived.”

“However, the sudden setback is not expected to last. The food to go market is forecast to grow by over 40% in 2021, returning the market value to around the 2019 level.

“The very nature of food to go, whereby it is not consumed on premise, it is relatively inexpensive and much of the customer base of the major players are already back at work, means the sector is well insulated for a swift recovery.”

Coffee shops/cafés were the strongest performers over the last year, increasing share across all day parts but most significantly at dinner (+1.7pp).

In terms of overall share, convenience store grab and go dominates the market at a value of £5 billion – representing a 33% share of the total market in 2020.

Despite a significant reduction in value this year, the food to go market is set to recover quickly due to its versatility, low contact and value-led proposition.