Food-to-go opportunity after millennial demand

Manufacturers must take advantage of millennial's demand for food-to-go

Food manufacturers must innovate to take advantage of the growing multi-million pound demand for food-to-go products from millennials, according to grocery think-tank IGD.

New product development targeted at millennials – 18 to 24-year-olds – was key to making the most of the food-to-go market, which was estimated to be worth £21bn within four years, said the think-tank. It came as IGD’s latest research found millennials were twice as likely to buy food-to-go products when shopping in convenience stores as over-26s, it added.

IGD shopper insight manager Rhian Thomas said: “We’re forecasting food-to-go to be worth over £21bn by 2021, so there is a great opportunity for retailers and manufacturers looking to take a bigger bite of this market to really think about how they are appealing to this new generation of shoppers.

‘A sure way to succeed’

Who are IGD’s millennials?
  • Those born between 1992 and 1999
  • 18 – 25-year-olds
  • Also known as Generation Y

“Manufacturers should continue to innovate to take advantage of this opportunity. Providing products to appeal to all food-to-go occasions, from breakfast to snacking, is a sure way to succeed.”

The research found 30% of millennials had bought food-to-go products on their last shopping trip, while only 13% of over-26s did. Almost a third of millennials bought food-to-go products at supermarkets, compared with 9% of over-26s, it found.

Millennials were also more interested in alternative food-to-go ranges, including vegetarian and vegan products. Half wanted to see more vegetarian options, while 32% of over-26s did. 41% wanted a greater choice of vegan options, compared with 22% of over-26s.

Almost 40% of millennials wanted to see more dairy-free ranges, compared with 24% of over-26s. Just 22% of over-26s wanted a greater variety of gluten-free food-to-go products, compared with 35% of millennials.

‘Opportunity to continue developing’

Thomas said: “We’re already seeing that food-to-go specialists and quick-service restaurants are appealing to younger shoppers by focusing on expanded ranges, health, quality and convenience. But, there’s an opportunity to continue developing these areas.

“Millennials are the shoppers of the future, so creating food-to-go ranges that appeal to them could be a route to significant success. Retailers and manufacturers should therefore work together to meet the dynamic needs of this new generation of shopper.”

Meanwhile, this year, both Greencore and Greggs have said their food-to-go ranges boosted sales and profits. Greencore said its food-to-go offering boosted revenue to £1.01bn, while Greggs said growing consumer demand for food-to-go helped to raise profits to £80.3M.

IGD food-to-go research – at a glance
  • 48% of millennials likely to buy food-to-go in convenience stores, compared with 24% of over-26s
  • 32% of millennials buy food-to-go in supermarkets, compared with 9% of over-26s
  • 23% buy food-to-go at discounters, compared with 7% of over-26s

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