What are the main trends driving food to go? | Features and analysis


IGD has identified five key trends that are driving the take-out food recovery.

In its latest report, Food-to-go Trends 2022, it examines the five factors that are expected to shape food-to-go:

The consumer needs driving formats

As hybrid working is set to become a social norm, IGD believes investment in suburban areas will increase and operators will continue to adapt their offerings to meet new opportunities such as vending machines and micro-markets. Formats are also suited for processes, such as delivery orders shipped away from walk-in customers, delivery and takeout-only formats, and the next generation of drive-thru.

Price vs Premium

According to the IGD, price will be a key focus, due to different household budgets and frequency of spending. While some consumers are looking for affordable daily treats, others opt for a more premium offering. He says meal deals are growing in popularity at both the low and high end, giving consumers the confidence to know what they’re paying for, regardless of their budget.

Digital at heart

IGD says data is being used in smarter ways, to develop new products and formats but also to automate processes, such as ordering customers through screens, to free up staff to deliver higher value activities that improve the customer experience. The ‘omnichannel’ approach is becoming increasingly prevalent, allowing customers to seamlessly switch between in-store, take-out and delivery service for a cohesive brand experience.

Innovation and evaluation

The agile mindset will continue, but innovation will be more incremental than disruptive as operators take time to review initiatives. According to IGD, the industry can expect to see more concept trials and partnerships to gauge viability and cost-effectiveness before wider deployment. Operators in particular are likely to expand analysis teams and increase research budgets to assess the results of new initiatives before deciding where to invest.

Healthy menus, a healthy planet

Health continues to be a growing priority, as does sustainability, which is driven by both consumers and government, particularly in the case of health in the retail sector with HFSS. Health and wellness are at the forefront, which translates into all channels of the food and beverage market.

Nicola Knight, senior analyst at IGD and author of Food-to-go Trends 2022 explained the key trends. “Technology, delivery, format innovation and product development have all played an important role in the industry’s recovery. With many new consumer behaviors, such as hybrid working, showing signs of perseverance, operators and retailers will now build on existing innovation to take a more planned and strategic approach to their business development.

“We can expect to see a ‘test and learn’ approach as brands continue to navigate the new and evolving ways in which consumers buy food to go.

She added: “2022 will be a year of reflection, innovation, concept development and new ways of doing business, as the market progresses to adapt to changing consumer needs. With household finances coming under increasing pressure, the market faces new uncertainties and challenges, so the adaptability and agility demonstrated during Covid will need to remain.


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