In the last 12 weeks, the value of the food-to-go market within the independent convenience sector has grown by 9% year on year, reports The Wholesale Company (TWC) and MealTrak.

However, the total market value across all channels has grown by 31% over the same period, with total grocery retail outlets showing 51% growth.

Tom Fender, development director at TWC, said: “Most convenience stores did extremely well over the pandemic, growing sales and attracting new customers. 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.”

“Obviously the issue of prices, price image and inflation are creating a perfect storm right now, so independent retailers will need to think about marketing within their communities. Most shoppers travel less than half a mile to get to their c-store, so store catchments are tight, and this gives retailers permission to talk about value-for-money by shopping locally.”

“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 vs. other eating out occasions – and it also offers respectable margins for retailers.”

Last month we reported that retailers must now add calorie and portion information to food-to-go menus and displays. Products such as ready-to-eat pizzas, hot beverages, bakery items and pre-packaged for direct-sale foods all fall under the legislation, which came into force on 6 April.

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