IGD forecasts food-to-go to take bigger bite of UK grocery

Date : 21 November 2016

IGD is predicting the burgeoning food-to-go market to be worth £21.7bn by 2021, up from £16.1bn this year, offering significant opportunities for growth.

IGD splits the market into five segments, with all expected to increase significantly by 2021:

  • Food-to-go specialists have been growing their scale and impact across the UK and will be the strongest climbers, with a predicted worth of up to £7.1bn in five years
  • Quick service restaurants (QSRs) will be the second largest segment of food-to-go, and will be worth up to £6bn by 2021
  • Coffee specialists will be the second-fastest growers and could be worth as much as £3.9bn by 2021
  •  Food-to-go sales at convenience, forecourts and other retailers are predicted to be worth as much as £3.3bn in five years’ time
  • Supermarkets and hypermarkets will also expand their food-to-go ranges over the next five years, to be worth up to £1.4bn
  2016 value
2021 value
CAGR 2016 – 2021
Food-to-go specialists 4.6 7.1 9.0
Quick service restaurants (QSRs) 5.0 6.0 3.6
Coffee specialists 2.7 3.9 7.5
Convenience, forecourt & other retailers 2.5 3.3 5.8
Supermarkets & hypermarkets 1.2 1.4 2.7
Total 16.1 21.7 6.2

Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD chief executive, said: “Over the next five years, we are forecasting growth of up to 35% for the overall food-to-go market, providing there is a favourable economic backdrop. Suppliers are seeking ways to expand, so the growth potential of this dynamic and rapidly shifting sector represents a really clear opportunity. However, food-to-go is a different market to grocery retail and requires a distinct approach to succeed.”

Food-to-go and coffee specialists

Looking at food-to-go and coffee specialists, Joanne Denney-Finch said: “Changing shopper habits will contribute greatly towards the strong growth of these two segments. We are seeing a rise in coffee culture and our research shows that almost half (48%) of drink on-the-go shoppers are purchasing hot drinks. Shoppers are also beginning to adopt food-to-go as a lifestyle choice which presents a clear opportunity for these operators, and coffee specialists are responding to this by focusing more on food and improved lunchtime options.”


On the growth of QSRs, Joanne Denney-Finch said: “Almost all shoppers (92%) say that speed of service is key to their food-to-go experience, which is partly why quick service restaurants are forecasted to be the second-biggest segment in value by 2021.

“A new, modern generation of burger bars and an increased focus on healthier options is really helping to drive this part of the market. Some 20% of shoppers are purchasing lunch on-the-go more than twice a week, which is another key driver of growth for QSR operators.”

Supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores and forecourts

Joanne Denney-Finch added: “Busy, flexible lifestyles mean shoppers are shopping little and often, and this culture is causing a boom in food-to-go for convenience stores, which have a strong forecasted annual compound growth of 5.8% . To ensure they meet this demand, we have seen convenience retailers introducing specialist food-to-go counters in their stores, as well tailoring their ranges to the different times of the day shoppers purchase this category.

“Supermarkets and hypermarkets are also increasingly thinking about their food-to-go offering and have been trialling new formats, counters and ideas in-store. It’s obviously appealing to shoppers, as our research shows that supermarkets are the most popular place to buy a drink on-the-go (30%) and breakfast-on-the-go (27%).”


Notes to editors:

  1. IGD is a food and grocery research and training charity
  2. We define the maarket based on sales of food-to-go operators and a proportion of sales of relevant, food-to-go products from retailers. The core methodology is based on a bottom-up approach, building up total sales of key operators in the channel, plus a top-down approach benchmarked against ONS spending figures for relevant sectors
  3. Our shopper data comes from two IGD ShopperVista studies: a nationally representative omnibus survey of 2,000 UK respondents in May 2016 and 1124 GB Shoppers July – September 2016
  4. IGD believes the food-to-go category is supported by strong fundamentals, but these market sizes and forecasts were compiled at a time of uncertainty for the UK following the EU referendum. It remains impossible to predict the overall economic impact of the Brexit process. So we’ve based these forecasts on what we know: stated and anticipated growth plans for key operators and existing economic forecasts. IGD forecasts are therefore offered as a ‘baseline’ or assessment based on the Brexit process not materially impacting the pace of development of this market. We will refine the forecast if necessary over the coming weeks and months
  5. IGD shopper research identifies five key food-go-missions; breakfast, drinks, lunch, snack and leisure
  6. Food-to-go specialists include operators such as Pret A Manger, Greggs and Subway

For more information contact:

Dani Cooper on:
[email protected] or 01923 857 141