The number of out-of-home eating occasions increased by 5% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to 8 August, new research reveals.

The latest MealTrak results, from wholesale experts TWC in partnership with food-to-go and out-of-home tracking programme MealTrak, show there were 814 million eating out-of-home occasions in the 12 week-period.

The data shows sandwich shops (-11%), coffee shops/cafes (-7%), fast food & takeaway (-12%), high street (-17%), and transportation (-39%) are all in decline.

However, forecourts are rebounding well, with a 29% increase in occasions in the latest 12 weeks compared to 2021, and convenience stores saw an 8% growth in the past 12 weeks.

The data shows value sales are up 25% on a 52 week/MAT basis and increased 15% on a 12-week basis versus 2021. Value growth exceeds occasions growth due to inflation, TWC said.

The research reveals that the mission ‘to treat’, which was so strong during the pandemic, is now giving way to the need ‘to cut costs’ and for ‘speed’ and for ‘something that will be filling’.

In addition, TWC reported an increase in products associated with lunchtime ‘meal deals’ and almost 50% of occasions are for ‘sharing’.

Tom Fender, Development Director at TWC, said: “Spend on out-of-home consumption reached almost £5bn in the 12 weeks ending 8 August 2022, representing growth of 12% versus the same period in 2021. Value growth is significantly outstripping growth in terms of the number of occasions as inflation takes hold.”

He added: “The challenge for food-to-go and eating out-of-home specialists will be how to ensure they retain their share of the market. During Covid, we saw many retailers reduce their food-to-go ranges, but maybe now is the time to consider expansion once more as food-to-go is generally more resilient through tough economic times due to its lower price point than more formal dining occasions, acting as something of an ‘affordable treat’.”

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