Sweet goods are a key market for food-to-go operators, according to research for chocolate producer Callebaut, which shows 50% of millennials choose a sweet option.

The research, carried out by Belgian chocolate producer Callebaut, said the figure was especially significant as millennials (16- to 34-year-olds) were driving the food-to-go market more than any other age bracket, with over 75% buying food-to-go at least once a week.

The survey also found that chocolate was a key trend in the food-to-go market, with 69% of female consumers saying they wanted a healthy snack option which incorporated chocolate, and 64% of all consumers saying they would be tempted by a chocolate treat when ordering a hot drink.

Quality was another key trend, with 61% of consumers saying they preferred a handmade treat over a mass-produced bar or biscuit. Almost 67% of millennials said they would be prepared to pay a premium for a handmade snack, with 30% willing to pay £1 more.

The results suggested restaurants also had the opportunity to cash in on the food-to-go trend. Some 51% of consumers said they would be more likely to order a dessert if a to-go option was available, and 65% of millennials said that, if offered, they would take a dessert away with them to eat later.

Robert Harrison, sales director at Callebaut, said: “The food-to-go market is a huge opportunity for operators and one that is essential to get right – it comprises a quarter of all eating-out spend out-of-home and is growing at a rate of 5%.

“By focusing on more innovative snacks and desserts and tapping into that demand for chocolate-based recipes, handmade treats or healthier chocolate options, operators can expand their repertoire and increase their profits.”

The Barry Callebaut Group, owner of the Callebaut brand, recently announced “solid” half-year results despite the impact of a strong Swiss franc and a weak cocoa products market.