The food landscape across the globe is changing rapidly. Over the last couple of years, there’s been a massive shift in consumer preference and behaviours. In Europe, there’s been an increased demand in the Convenience Foods sector and food-to-go operators are already capitalizing on this changing pattern. Considering that the European grocery retail market has shown restricted growth, all eyes are now on the $16.3 billion food-to-go industry, predicted to grow by 35%, as per a report by market research firm, IGD.
Here are some major trends expected to drive this growing market:
Armed with a growing awareness of the importance of healthy eating, shoppers are getting more health-conscious and prefer foods that fit into their dietary needs and support an active lifestyle. Moreover, with the advancement of technology, shoppers are relying on fitness apps and wearable technology to gauge the nutritional value of what they consume.
New-age shoppers are very time-conscious and do not want to buy meals from a place that requires travelling a greater distance and therefore more time. They would rather buy food from nearby grocery stores vis. a vis. a faraway mall, even if it comes at a higher cost, as long as they save time. A number of brands are cashing in on this trend by establishing a more robust presence across Europe at convenient locations. For example, food-to-go specialists such as ‘Tossed’ and ‘Pret’have aggressively expanded to ensure they are ‘more available’ for consumers looking for quick meals.
The advent of alternate meal timings,such as, ‘post-workout snacking’, has brought new opportunities for food retailers. There are people looking for convenient pick-up snacks, let’s say for an after-gym energy boost or just something small to satiate the evening hunger fix. Here lies a huge pool of untapped demand, for food providers to fill in by offering options beyond the conventional coffee and lunch pairing.
Millennial shoppers are the biggest drivers of growth in the food-to-go industry. According to Michael Freedman, Senior insight manager at IGD, “While relatively small today, the future proofing of businesses will lie in their ability to meet the growing demands of the millennial group”. Millenials are an extremely time-conscious group and go to great lengths to save time, which explains why they tend to prefer packaged food, instant food and are known to be fans of bulk cooking. Consequently, they are also more willing to adopt innovations that help them save time. This indicates great growth prospects for businesses in the food-to-go industry.
Apart from taking into consideration the above drivers, it is important that European food-to-go retailers, operators and suppliers collaborate with their global counterparts, in order to thrive in this growing segment and to maximize the opportunities in this market.