Latest results from MealTrak, the food-to-go and out-of-home tracking programme developed in partnership with TWC Group, show the total number of out-of-home eating occasions was 2% higher over the year to 20 February 2023. However, in the latest 12 weeks, the number of occasions fell by 7% versus the equivalent period in 2022.

In the last 12 weeks, occasions in the ‘eating out’ channel (comprising pubs, restaurants and hotels) declined by 8%. Pubs continue to outperform the other sub-channels (-6%), ahead of restaurants (-8%) and hotels (-19%).

Total food-to-go occasions declined by 7%. This was driven by transportation sites (-54%), high street (-46%), forecourts (-22%), fast food & takeaway (-16%), sandwich shops and cafes (-11%), independent convenience stores (-11%) and workplace (-9%).

The multiples (+5%) and the discounters (+28%), with their more affordable food-to-go offer, remained the winners. Coffee shops and cafes also recorded modest growth in the latest 12 weeks period, up 3%.

In value terms, sales were up 14% on the year, with a more modest growth rate of 2% on a 12-week basis.

Tom Fender, Development Director at TWC, commented: “Whilst the out-of-home market continues to face many headwinds, we do see opportunities for those operators that really know their customer and are investing in relevant innovation that meets the needs of the post-pandemic, economically challenged consumer.”

“For instance, we’ve seen a shift in spending into the back end of the week, which represents more leisure-driven occasions, this could well be the driver of the coffee shop occasion, which is an affordable leisure mission.”

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