Food-to-go trends: what we learnt at IGD Live

Date : 19 November 2019

Nicola Knight

Senior Analyst - Food-To -Go

At IGD Live last week we heard from an incredible line-up of leading UK and international food-to-go specialists, retailers and manufacturers. Here's what they said about how their businesses are tackling the five big trends in food-to-go

The rise and rise of health and wellness

As interest in healthy lifestyles increases, how can retailers meet the need for healthier food-to-go in stores? For the first time in the UK, visitors to IGD Live experienced Picadeli, the digitalised salad bar concept that European retailers are partnering with to deliver heathier food-to-go options for shoppers.

David von Laskowski, CEO of Greenfood Group who own the Picadeli brand, explained how the tech-driven concept is simple, convenient and efficient for retailers to manage, and how it can drive footfall to stores without cannibalising existing food-to-go sales. Picadeli, which was founded in Sweden in 2009, now runs over 2,100 in-store salad bars across Europe. The principles of simplicity for store staff combined with consumer benefits of tasty, fresh, good value, healthy food are a recipe for success that other food-to-go brands - and retailers - can learn from.

New missions, new solutions

Sarah Whiddett, head of insight and customer marketing at UK foodservice wholesaler, Bidfood, outlined how lifestyle changes, such as high levels of employment and more variable shift patterns (meaning people are not home at traditional meal times), longer commutes and  greater mobility are all driving food-to-go missions. 

At the same time, operator-led drivers including better price management, promotions, speed of service, innovation and longer opening hours are making food-to-go more inviting and accessible.

Speakers from Marks & Spencer and Chozen Noodle demonstrated how they are bringing new solutions to market to meet this growing demand.  Both businesses adapt their food-to-go range and execution to a variety of site locations from store-in-store partnerships, to transport hubs and high streets.

Doing good is good business

More sustainable and ethical ways of doing business were mentioned by several speakers, highlighting how this topic has risen up retailers' and food-to-go operators’ agendas, driven by increased shopper awareness of the issues.

Read the blog by our head of shopper and food-to-go insight, Rhian Thomas, on ‘Thinking big on sustainability’ to hear how Planet Organic and Too Good To Go are partnering to reduce food waste, how Paddy and Scott’s and Hana Group place sustainable sourcing at the very heart of their business, and how Co-op are working to reduce and remove packaging from their food- and drink-to-go ranges

Partnerships and new locations

Partnerships were another common theme across many of our speakers, demonstrating how retailers and food-to-go operators are finding shared benefits in working together to access new locations and meet consumer needs.

Hana Group, who run Sushi Gourmet and hot food counters for Sainsburys and other retailers, shared how their counters give a halo effect to the whole store, creating theatre and driving footfall, resulting in double-digit like-for-like sales growth.

Delegates experienced first-hand the engaging experience of Picadeli’s self-service salad bar, which uses tech to simplify operations for store staff to ensure the bars are always stocked with fresh, healthy products. This means retailers can concentrate on running the store, leaving the complexity of managing a foodservice concept to the specialists.

Marks & Spencer explained how it is working with WHSmith in 15 hospitals to offer a store-in-store offer focussed on food-to-go. This combines the benefits of WHSmith’s extensive store estate with the trusted food offering of M&S, creating a stronger consumer proposition.

New food destinations

The lifestyle changes mentioned by Sarah from Bidfood are creating particular opportunities for increased and improved food-to-go in transport hubs.

Matthew Kirby, founder of Asian fast food brand Chozen Noodle, said that motorway services have been a big growth area for his business at a time when trading in high street sites has been more challenging.

M&S opened its first airside airport store this year and quickly learnt that consumers want different things in these locations: healthy options are not as popular as in other stores as customers are already in an indulgent holiday mood; bacon rolls and sweets go down well; having alcohol is a real advantage; and extra seating and charging sockets are a must.

Missed us this year? IGD Live returns next year on 14-15th October 2020. Register your interest here.

Get up to speed on what we see as the key influences and trends to watch out for in the year ahead, and see how retailers and food-to-go specialists alike are driving innovation to reach new customers, missions and locations.

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