Lunch-to-go gives convenience grocers £36m boost

food to go

Food-to-go is one of the fastest growing categories in convenience grocery retail, providing that sector a £36 million boost last year.

According to analytics firm IRI, sandwiches, sushi, salads and snacks purchased “to go” grew 6.6 per cent in major convenience chains chains — including Co-op Food, McColl’s, Tesco Express, Little Waitrose and Sainsbury‘s Local — for the year ended March 25.

This growth helped boost revenues by £36 million for these stores.

IRI said that food-to-go sales in all retailers — including, high street multiples, convenience multiples, petrol forecourts, travel outlets and independent convenience retailers — is worth £2.3 billion and grew by five per cent in the last year.

Main store supermarkets dominated, with food-to-go sales of £1.45 billion while convenience retailers traded around £900 million in the last year.

IRI said retailers have capitalised on the British shopper‘s culture for convenience, expanding their ranges to include more innovative offerings than the lunch time sandwich, such as meal deals.

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The sector now sells more than 1.4 billion meals, meaning that on average, every person buys an average of 20 food-to-go meals a year.

Across all retailers, sales of sandwiches grew by 3.8 per cent to £1.4 billion, and while they still account for most volume sales, it is the higher-priced baguettes, salads and sushi that are showing faster growth.

Ready to eat salads grew 5.1 per cent to £800 million while sales of sushi grew by 12 per cent to £100 million.

However, independent convenience retailers — such as Budgens, Londis, Spar, Costcutter and Nisa —  who are more dependent on selling sandwiches, show slower growth in food-to-go category than the multiples.

Overall, convenience retailers grew value food-to-go sales by five per cent in the last year to £865 million, but this was driven by the high street retailers with growth of 6.6 per cent to £584 million.

Petrol forecourts and travel outlets also grew food-to-go sales by 2.9 per cent to £185 million.

Meanwhile, independent outlets showed a sales decline of 0.4 per cent in food-to-go sales, down to £96 million.

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