10 facts on the future of food-to-go

Exclusive research from MCA Insight and HIM has revealed potential opportunities to capitalise on forecasted growth in the next three years.

8 February 2019

The food-to-go market will be worth £21.2bn in 2019, rising 3% compared to 2018.

That’s according to new figures from MCA and HIM’s UK Food To Go Market Report 2019, which forecasts growth over the next three years and identifies key consumer trends for both retail and eating out.

Over 72,000 online consumer surveys, 20,000 face-to-face shopper interviews, and analysis of MCA’s market sizing and company tracking databases have contributed to the research.

Here, we highlight some of the key details from the report.


Eating out

  • Food-to-go (FTG) is outperforming the overall eating-out market and is set to account for almost a quarter of total eating-out spend. This is attributed to its greater affordability, which makes it attractive to today’s cash-strapped consumer.
  • While FTG is expected to grow 1.8% in 2019, this is a smaller rise than in previous years.
  • Over the next three years, the FTG sector is expected to add £2bn to its value, reaching £23bn in 2022, thanks to the growing time pressures faced by the UK’s workforce as well as widening accessibility.
  • According to Steve Gotham, Director of Insight at MCA: “Winners will be operators and retailers who impress on the core needs of speed, value and quality, but we believe growing opportunities will also be presented through innovating around the emerging trends for more conscious consumerism and ultra-convenience. With key younger adult consumers in particular looking to be more responsible in terms of their health and the wider environment, and also wanting technology-led time-saving solutions, the next few years promises to be an exciting period as the market adapts and evolves.”


  • FTG in convenience retail is expected to rise to £0.5bn over the next three years.
  • Convenience stores can expect to see a total of £6.2bn in 2019, making up around 30% of the total FTG market.
  • However, convenience stores are losing market share to more specialist foodservice FTG operators, so that despite continuous growth in FTG, the share held by convenience retail has declined slightly since 2013.
  • Price and convenience are the two key trends that retailers need to focus on to bolster their share in the FTG sector, according to shopper research.
  • Val Kirillovs, Research and Insights Director at HIM, said: “Lunch and snack occasions are dominated by the grocery retailers; however, consumers are placing greater importance on range, in particular healthier options. Those retailers that are seeing great success in FTG are offering a variety of hot and cold options that cater to the needs of their particular shoppers.”


For more information and to find out how you can access the MCA & HIM UK Food To Go Market Report 2019, please get in touch with MCA through their website.

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