The food to go sector in the UK has seen a 3.5% year-on-year growth in customer visit frequency in the first quarter of 2019, research showed.
Average spend on food to go was up 12.2% during the first quarter when compared with data from the same quarter in 2018 during the same period, data from MCA’s quarterly 'Food To Go Tracker' has revealed.
In the overall eating out market, average spend went up 2.4% year-on-year during the same period.
"Food to go (FTG) meal visits now account for over a third of all out of home meal visits and grocery retail remains in a fantastic position to capitalise on this growth." Katie Prowse, Insight Manager at MCA Insight, said.
While the frequency of visits to 'on-the-go' food stores increased for all parts of the day, breakfast (+9.2%) and dinner (+16.3%) were the biggest gainers.
Grocery retail continued to attract the highest share of visits for the lunch and snack segment during the quarter.
Its share of the food to go market remained static for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
However, there was a 3% point year-on-year decline in the snack segment.
It was mainly a result of competition from coffee shops, cafes and sandwich retailers, the study showed.
Prowse also pointed out that food quality and taste, staff friendliness, and cleanliness are the three main consumer-led factors that have grown in importance.
"Our data shows that some supermarkets and c-stores recognise this, with satisfaction ratings for product-led KPIs increasing," she added.
"Focusing on the right offer, that differentiates from competitors and is high quality should be a key focus for retailers, rather than the quickest option."
The quarterly 'Food To Go Tracker' is supported by MCA's Eating Out Panel, which conducts interviews of around 6,000 consumers every month.
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