Grocery research organisation IGD has identified the top five trends that will shape the food-to-go market for the future.

Gavin Rothwell, senior retail insight manager for IGD, explains why these five key trends could make a significant difference to the food-to-go market:

The rise of health and wellness

“Shoppers are increasingly aware of health and wellness, and food-to-go operators are expanding the variety of flavours and products available to meet this demand,” Rothwell said.

“Foods that support active lifestyles and tick the box for dietary needs are performing well, while wearable technology and apps are helping shoppers to better understand the nutritional and calorific value of what they consume.”

Targeting new locations

“Many food-to-go specialists are now expanding to reach new types of shoppers. For example, Pret A Manger is now present in motorway services, while Subway and Greggs are expanding across petrol forecourts, to target the on-the-go shopper,” he adds.

“Other operators, such as Leon and Tortilla, are also opening stores outside London for the first time, to meet a growing appetite for food-to-go outside the capital.”

An increased focus on ‘alternative missions’

“By ‘alternative missions’, we mean food-to-go occasions beyond the classic options of coffee or lunch,” says Rothwell. “Although many retailers and specialists are focusing their efforts on breakfast, this is a relatively small market and spend per trip can be quite modest. We’re therefore expecting to see a broader focus on alternative missions at different times of day.

“Snacking provides a great opportunity for food-to-go operators. Almost half (45%) of UK adults have bought a snack on-the-go in the last month (IGD Shopper Vista, May 2016, 2,000 UK shoppers), so the size of the prize is huge.”

Further integration of technology

“Almost all shoppers (92%) think speed and efficiency of service is an important driver of deciding where to shop for food and drink (IGD ShopperVista, Q3 2016, 1,124 GB good-to-go shoppers), so we expect technology to play an even bigger role in food-to-go in the future.

“Outlets such as London’s Inamo have completely transferred customers’ entire ordering experience to in-store tablets and, last year, Starbucks introduced a remote ordering app – a technology we also expect to grow in popularity.”

More fusion between retail and food-to-go concepts

“Grocery retailers across the world are looking at how they can better cater for the food-to-go opportunity. For the likes of Whole Foods Market, it’s already a core part of their offer.

“For smaller retail formats, Irish retailers are setting a great example in this field. For example, Musgrave’s Centra has been extremely progressive in how it delivers a compelling food-to-go offer, a convenience store and an enticing eat-in area in one single space. We expect more of this to follow in 2017 and beyond, as more retailers look to capture a share of the growing food-to-go opportunity.”