Global chocolate producer Callebaut says Millennials and ‘buy now, enjoy later’ products are the future of the food-to-go market.

Introducing formats that can be purchased now but enjoyed later, and handmade chocolate-inspired snacks, are the secret to tapping into the £20.2bn food on-the-go market, according to research conducted by Callebaut in association with market research firm Toluna.

The research suggested there was a gap emerging in the market for dine-in restaurants, with 65% of 16- to 34-year-olds (Millennials) saying they would take a dessert away with them from a restaurant to eat later if it was offered.

It found that Millennials were fuelling the food-on-the-go market more than any other age group – over three-quarters of consumers in this bracket pick up food on-the-go at least once a week, with 50% of those choosing a sweet option. Convenience remains the main driver across all demographics.

"huge opportunity"

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%.”

He added: “The important thing to remember here is that it’s not only traditional on-the-go operators that can take advantage of this opportunity – dine-in restaurants can also develop desserts that will look and taste as good later on as when they were first purchased, and in packaging that allows them to be portable.”

The research also revealed the importance of chocolate as a key driver in purchasing snacks on-the-go. Sixty-four per cent of consumers questioned said they would be tempted by a chocolate treat when ordering a hot drink.

Sixty-one per cent of consumers also said they preferred a handmade treat over a mass-produced bar or biscuit. Almost two-thirds of Millennials said they would pay a premium for a handmade snack, with 30% willing to pay £1 more.