The past two years have been a rollercoaster for the food to go category. With the country in and out of lockdowns, on-the-go eating occasions virtually disappeared at the start of 2021, with food sales in this category dropping by half between January and March alone (Lumina).

But, as Government restrictions eased and ‘Freedom Day’ arrived, on-the-go made a strong comeback and occasions doubled between April and July as shoppers started to head out and about again.

Fast forward to today and with all remaining Covid-19 restrictions scrapped, the total Out of Home market is bouncing back with growth set to reach +39.1% by the end of 2022 (Lumina).

“Despite the fact that Government restrictions have been lifted, lockdowns left a permanent legacy – with people expected to adopt hybrid working patterns for good,” says Isaac Fisher, Pukka’s Managing Director. “The category will continue to benefit as a result, since food to go products aren’t only enjoyed whilst people are out and about. They’re the ideal option for anyone who needs to step away from their home office to grab a quick bite to eat, and people also bring food to go options back home.”

This is why Pukka’s new savoury pastry range – which comprises a Pork Sausage Roll, Vegan Sausage Roll, a Beef Pasty and a variety of Slices – are must-stocks. The range can be heated at home or enjoyed straight from the pack, making them the ideal products to cater to at home and on-the-go occasions.

Vegan products have made their mark in almost every grocery category. This has created a huge opportunity for food to go, enabling brands and retailers to up their game and drive growth by offering hassle-free vegan food that is accessible, convenient and tastes great. To tap into this trend, Pukka launched Vegan Sausage Roll to offer shoppers the signature Pukka taste in a new plant-based format.

“The key to driving sales is innovation and variety – and our savoury pastry range ticks both boxes. In fact, research shows that 27 million new shoppers want to purchase our sausage rolls, slices and pasty. By choosing Pukka, wholesalers can be confident they’ll drive food to go sales – providing retailers with the opportunity to add excitement, flavour, and variety to their food to go fixtures,” adds Fisher.

“It’s also important that wholesalers stock products with a longer shelf life, which allows time for them to sell to independent retailers – before they sell to shoppers – ahead of use-by dates. Our savoury pastry products have an 11-day shelf life from manufacture, with a golden glaze that lasts, compared with just a couple of days on average for other food to go products, such as sandwiches. It’s important to remember that retailers will seek out products with these kinds of sell-by dates to relieve time pressure, minimise food waste and ensure they’re not missing out on potential profit.”

Ben Knop, Food to Go Innovation Marketing Manager for Premier Foods, comments: “As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, there are still many unknowns, especially around how people will shop within the Food to Go category, especially when we consider that many people are still choosing to work from home.”

Premier Foods’ new Angel Delight Food to Go pots have a significant long-shelf-life benefit, valuable in stores where their Food to Go footfall may not have returned to the levels seen pre-pandemic or is fluctuating due to more recent work from home requirements.

“In addition, it remains important for wholesalers to provide a variety of options and formats to retailers, that suit different lifestyles – especially when it comes to desserts in Food to Go as consumers are looking for more choice in the fixture,” adds Knop.

“We know that enjoyment remains one of the biggest motivators for shoppers when it comes to desserts, so it’s important that brands offer great-tasting products that will satisfy shoppers’ needs for treats while on the move,” says Knop. “However, with HFSS regulations around the corner, wholesalers should encourage retailers to be engaged on their plans for compliant products, as these will likely play a crucial role in food to go next year.”

New Angel Delight Food to Go dessert pots present an opportunity for wholesale to offer retailers an ideal great-tasting, non-HFSS option for their shoppers.

Available in Butterscotch & Chocolate and Chocolate & Salted Caramel flavours, this launch will be a crucial product to stock in food to go fixtures as wellbeing concerns continue to grow and consumers become more health conscious when selecting products (IRI).

The light, bubbly texture of Angel Delight Food to Go dessert pots appeal to shoppers looking for a light treat. The convenient format, long shelf life, and the fact that the pots are suitable for vegetarians, make the launch well suited to retailers looking to bolster the dessert offering in their chillers.

“For retailers to effectively manage the expected impact of the upcoming legislation, they need to spotlight these new, compliant products to present their shoppers with adequate choice,” continues Knop. “In particular, they should hero products from brands that shoppers already know, love and trust, to ease them into the new, non-HFSS environment. At Premier Foods our ambition is to offer consumers healthier options across the board. With less than 120 calories, the new Angel Delight dessert pots have been designed as the ideal lighter food to go choice – seen as a healthier option to consumers and light enough to be enjoyed as a lunchtime snack.”

Matt Smith, Marketing Director for Tayto Group, comments: “The crisps & snacks market is worth over £630m with strong recent growth of +13.9% YoY in the latest 12 weeks (IRI). Sharing snacks are driving the market as we continue to enjoy a snack in front of Netflix or have friends round again, with £1 PMP Sharing Snacks growing at +17.0% (IRI). As Golden Wonder celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the brand goes from strength to strength by delivering the brand promise of ‘more punch per crunch’ with Golden Wonder’s £1 PMP Snacks range outperforming the market at +26% vs +17% (IRI) and Transform-A-Snack being the star performer at +45% (IRI).”

As we emerge from the pandemic, impulse snack sales are recovering with double digit growth in latest 12 weeks of +12.6% (IRI) with Golden Wonder’s 30p / 2 for 50p Fun Snacks range – that includes Tangy Toms, Spicy Bikers, Awesome Oinks and Quarterbacks – growing faster than the market at (+17% (IRI).

£1 PMP Sharing Crisps have seen excellent growth of +41% (IRI) and Golden Wonder’s recently launched range of unique flavours – Mature Cheddar and Spring Onion; Chargrilled Steak and Crispy Smoked Bacon – are performing strongly, delivering over double the sales of the previous flavours (IRI).

Pork Snacks sales have been performing well as consumers continue to enjoy the ultimate pub snack at home – a behaviour encouraged by pub closures in lockdown, that shows no sign of stopping.

Having been voted Britain’s favourite pub snack (Perspectus), scratchings are synonymous with the pub but surprisingly, almost half of purchases are in retail (Norstat). Pork snacks saw growth during lockdowns as consumers looked to ‘take the pub taste home’. Tayto Group are the #1 manufacturer with the two leading brands in the Mr Porky (41% share) and Midland Snacks, with an 18% share (IRI).

Golden Wonder celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and the brand continues to perform by delivering on the brand promise of ‘more punch per crunch’. By offering great branded value to consumers and strong retailer margins, Golden Wonder over-trades significantly in convenience / symbols and independents.

Golden Wonder’s £1 PMP Snacks range are outperforming the market at +26% vs +17% (IRI) with Transform-A-Snack being the star performer at +45% (IRI) helped by the launch of Cheese & Onion flavour in the last year.

“As a highly impulse-driven category, savoury snacks are a key footfall and sales driver for convenience retailers,” adds Smith. “Price-marked packs are a proven success in this category as a simple way to demonstrate value to increasingly price-conscious shoppers.”

The extent of consumer concern over rising prices is highlighted in a recent survey by Tayto Group where 95% of consumers were concerned about the cost and availability of groceries with almost 40% being very or extremely concerned (Norstat).

“Retailers can maximise their sales by ensuring that they have a range that covers the key price-points and product types,” says Smith.

Entry-point is where value for money is essential, e.g. 30p PMPs such as Golden Wonder’s Tangy Toms and Spicy Bikers which have the added benefit of a 2 for 50p on-pack promotion.

In impulse, stock a core range for the return of on-the-go occasions, e.g. Golden Wonder’s Transform-A-Snack and Ringos ranges.

£1 sharing demands a big focus as the largest and fastest growing segment, e.g. Golden Wonder’s recently launched Crisps range, plus proven favourites Ringos, Transform-A-Snack and Spicy Bikers.

Pork Scratchings are uniquely British snacks that over-trade in convenience, e.g. Mr Porky, Midland Snacks, Real Pork Co.

After experiencing an inevitable dip in sales during the height of the pandemic, the food to go sector has slowly recovered throughout 2021 as out of home footfall has resumed.

Indeed, the recent Lumina Intelligence Food to Go Market Report 2021 has predicted the food to go category to grow by almost a third (31.6%) this year to £15.3bn, recovering to 72% of its 2019 (pre-pandemic) market value.

In line with this, the cheese snacking sector has seen continued recovery in 2021, delivering +3.1% vol, +7.6% value in the 52 weeks to end December (IRI). The performance of the Cathedral City Snacking range is worthy of note, having delivered volume and value growth well ahead of the sector (IRI).

The brand has continued to back its Cathedral City Adult Snacking range, which leads the way in the sub-sector, gaining almost 4% pts volume share in the latest year (IRI.)

Andy Thompson, Marketing Manager at Cathedral City, comments “With footfall returning to high street and travel retail sectors we have seen rate of sale of Cathedral City grab and go snacking lines climbing back towards pre-pandemic levels. Cathedral City Lunchpack, Snack Bar and ‘With Pickle’ products remain top performers in relevant customers (the #1, #2 and #3 Adult Cheese Snacking SKUs in convenience retail respectively), while our Cathedral City Minis range leads the Adult Cheese Snack market for take-home and carried out occasions.”

Health as a reason for food choice continues to grow, and the ever-present Covid-19 pandemic appears to have made us even more conscious of the need to take care of our physical health. There has been a growing awareness of the benefits of eating well and with greater control over food preparation in the home over much of the last two years, the crisis may well have tipped good intentions into action for many.

According to Kantar, health needs drove 29.3% of all snacking choices in the year to 21 February 2021, secondary to taste. Convenience channel data from Lumina Intelligence corroborates this, with 29% of convenience store shoppers claiming to be eating more healthily than they were before the Covid-19 pandemic began and 46% of c-store shoppers trying to make healthier decisions when it comes to snacking. The significance of this is heightened in the face of the impending government crackdown on products deemed high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) from October 2022.

Within snacking, Kantar suggests that having a nutritional benefit (e.g. high in protein/ vitamins) is now the second biggest health need, accounting for 13.3% of snacking choices, while being more natural/ unprocessed accounts for a further 7.2% of consumption decisions.

Furthermore, Kantar revealed that chilled snacks benefit from a health halo: a fresh or chilled snack being almost twice as likely to be considered ‘healthy’ than an ambient one.

A perennial favourite, cheese occupies a unique position in consumers’ hearts and minds when it comes to snacking, delivering on both indulgence – as a tasty and comforting favourite – and on perceived health, thanks to its protein and micro-nutrient profile.

Thompson explains: “A naturally nutrient rich foodstuff that is high in protein, a good source of calcium and carries a whole host of other vitamins & minerals essential to bodily function, cheese has the ability to deliver an indulgent, sensory eating experience while also fulfilling a widely recognised role as part of a balanced diet.”

Via its market-leading Cathedral City Minis range and grab and go Snackbars, Saputo Diary UK is supporting consumers with a range of portion (and calorie) controlled snack-sized products. Offering the same taste of the nation’s favourite, each 20g Cathedral City Mini product has just 83kcal or fewer per portion. (Cathedral City Mini Mature Lighter contains 66 calories per portion.) Meanwhile Cathedral City Snackbar, available in Original and Sweet Chilli variants, contains 100 calories or fewer per bar.

 

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