Latest results from MealTrak, the food-to-go and out-of-home (OOH) tracking programme developed in partnership with TWC Group, show that whilst the number of OOH eating occasions were unchanged on a year-on-year basis, there was strong growth coming through in the latest quarter, with occasions up 13% in the 12 weeks to 12 June compared to the equivalent period in 2022.

The research reveals that there has also been a shift in sub-channel performance, with food-to-go now outperforming ‘eating out’ occasions. In the latter, pubs continue to outperform (+16%), whilst restaurants remain sluggish (-1%).

Within food-to-go, retail channels remained strong, with supermarkets (+15%), convenience (+15), and discounters (+44%) all seeing robust growth in occasions. However, sandwich shops and specialists (+19%) and coffee shops and cafés (+17%) were also back in positive territory.

Interestingly, sandwich shops are benefiting from more on-premise occasions, whilst the growth of coffee shops is largely off-premise (i.e. consumed elsewhere). The strong performance of workplace catering (+29%) also suggests that employees are attending their workplaces more frequently than this time last year.

Topline performance (data to 12 June 2023):

Latest 52 weeks52 weeks
(year ago)
52 w/e YOY changeLatest 12 weeks12 weeks
(year ago)
12 w/e YOY change
Total out of home GB occasions3.660bn3.663bnn/c888mn786mn+13%
Total out of home GB Value£22.339bn£20.771bn+8%£5.550bn£4.741bn+17%

Tom Fender, Development Director at TWC, commented: “It is fantastic to see double-digit growth for food-to-go and out-of-home eating this period – and importantly this is not just in value terms (buoyed by inflation), but also the number of occasions, which were up 13% in the latest 12 weeks. We’re also seeing significant changes below the surface of this topline performance, with foodservice channels catching back up with their retail counterparts.

“Whilst ‘something inexpensive’ is the fastest growing mission this period, the shift in channels suggests that value perceptions are changing, and this mission does not necessarily always equate to a supermarket meal deal. Indeed, there is strong growth in this mission coming through coffee shops and sandwich specialists. Consumers are certainly still playing it safe though, with ‘regular favourite’ in strong growth, whilst ‘something a bit different’ remains firmly in decline. ‘Something sweet’ is also in strong growth this period, with cakes and pastries performing particularly well.”

Full article