10 stats on the growth of food-to-go

MCA’s Food To Go Tracker shows that breakfast is a growing attraction, while Greggs is a strong performer when it comes to consumer ratings.

30 November 2018
Greggs spicy BBQ chicken wrap

  • Visitor frequency at food-to-go outfits has grown 2.4% year on year, compared to 0.5% in the wider market.
  • Food-to-go now accounts for 43.8% of total eating out occasions – up 1.3 percentage points (pp) since 2017.
  • At 4.2bn, the total number of food-to-go occasions is 2.4% higher than last year – though it hasn’t reached the 2016 high of 4.5bn.
  • Lunch is the most popular meal-time, accounting for 23% of all visits, with consumers most likely to buy from Greggs, followed by McDonald’s or Tesco.
  • Both breakfast and dinner frequencies have risen by 5.8% over the past 12 months to 1.08 and 0.45 occasions per head per month respectively.
  • Growth in average spend increased by 6.2% to £6.84 over the past year, compared to a 0.6% rise in the total market.
  • Coffee shops, cafes and fast-food outlets are increasing popularity for breakfasts, accounting for over half of visits, driven by the success of Costa Coffee, Caffè Nero, McDonald’s and Greggs.
  • Greggs was the strongest performer on consumer ratings of quality/taste and speed of service.
  • Consumers prefer convenience stores and supermarkets for snacks and lunches, with coffee shops the top choice at breakfast.
  • Nearly a third of lunch to-go occasions have involved no beverage, as consumers seek ways to cut back spend and perhaps act on concerns over plastic bottles.


“Food-to-go has proven to be one of the shining lights within the rather subdued eating out sector as a whole,” said Gareth Nash, consumer insight director at MCA. “Consumers, low on confidence, have been quick to cut back on some of their higher spend visits, such as social group missions. Yet, requirements for the convenience, speed and low cost of food-to-go have only risen among consumers who remain time pressed and increasingly concerned with the squeeze on their disposable incomes.”


This article first appeared on Food Spark’s sister site MCA. To hear about the growing opportunities in food-to-go, don’t miss MCA’s Food To Go conference on February 6, 2019. at the Ham Yard Hotel, London. This sell-out conference brings innovative operators and thought leaders together to discuss growing opportunities in food to go and changes in consumer behaviour, among other topics. Book your tickets here.

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