Wholesale experts TWC and food-to-go and out-of-home tracking programme MealTrak have reported that the food-to-go market has grown by 9% year-on-year in value in independent convenience stores in the latest 12 weeks.

However, the total market across all channels has grown by 31% over the same period and total grocery retail outlets have grown at an even more impressive 51%. This has been driven by a particularly strong performance for both discounters (+81%) and multiple convenience stores (+63%).

TWC says this suggests that independent convenience stores are not getting their ‘fair share’ of food-to-go growth.

Tom Fender, Development Director at TWC, said: “It was understandable that many retailers opted to scale back their food-to-go offer at that time as consumers weren’t commuting or getting out and about very much, rather they were preparing most of their meals at home. But what we have seen in the last few months is the rapid return of consumers eating food-to-go again.

“We all know the discounters have been attracting new shoppers as well as benefiting from returning lapsed shoppers. This always happens during economically challenging times. But discounters are not renowned for selling food-to-go items, so this should be a slight warning to local convenience operators that discounters are now competing on this mission too.”

He added: “This is the ideal time for independent retailers to review their food-to-go range in line with what’s happening in the market to maximise this opportunity. This will include in-store fixtures and ranging as well as external comms. Now is the time to grab food-to-go sales. Whilst many consumers are tightening their belts, food-to-go is more insulated due to its lower-ticket nature versus other eating out occasions – and it also offers respectable margins for retailers.”

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