As the number of foodservice outlets in the UK continues to grow and the choice of food broadens, increasing numbers of people are buying meals and snacks to eat outside the home, reveals a Horizons survey
The latest Eating Out-Look report by foodservice consultancy Horizons and JRA Research reveals the temptation to consume meals outside of the home has never been greater in the UK as food operators offer dishes, menus and snacks designed to whenever they want to eat and wherever they may be.
“Foodservice operators have done a great job at changing their offer and adapting to the way consumers eat out today, providing more foods that satisfy the snacking opportunity throughout the day,” explains Emma Read, director of marketing and business development at Horizons.
“This, typically, means several small meals during the day, whether it be coffee and porridge bought to eat at our desks in the morning, a muffin with a coffee mid-morning or light snack in the afternoon,” she adds.
The survey, which involved 281 foodservice operators and took place between March 6 and April 13, revealed that 66% of respondents saw an increase in food sales during the 12 months to April 2015, with 21% reporting a ‘large’ increase.
However, the research by Horizons and JRA also revealed a drop in average spend with operators reporting that more people were spending less than £12 per head per trip, while fewer people were spending above £16. Average spend dropped from £13.10 in spring 2014 to £11.03 in spring 2015, with 62% of consumers spending an average per head of under £12, compared with 51% last year.
But nearly half [48%] of the operators surveyed reported that sales of snacks had increased year-on-year. Last year 40% of operators reported a rise in snack sales.
“People are snacking more, or having one, or maybe two courses instead of three, which explains why average spend appears to have fallen,” points out Read.
“This backs up our previous consumer research [the QuickBite surveys of 2,194 adults conducted online by YouGov on January 5-6, 2015] that shows that while spend has fallen back slightly, frequency of eating out is rising.”
More UK consumers are also eating out at the weekends, according to the report. Some 42% of operators surveyed by Horizons and JRA said they were serving more meals from Friday to Sunday. Just over a third said they are serving more on Sundays, with pubs and bars (61%) reporting the biggest hike in weekend sales.
As such, operators remain positive about the future for eating out with 78% of the businesses surveyed, including restaurants, pubs, hotels, cafes and leisure outlets, expecting to see an increase in sales over the next 12 months. Some 58% are expecting a small increase and 20% expecting a large increase.
This optimism has dropped slightly as operators realise growth is likely to be more modest in the future.
Last year, 87% of operators expected to see an increase in sales in the forthcoming 12 months, with 25% anticipating a large increase.
Eating Out-Look is a collaboration between foodservice expert Horizons and JRA Research, which brings together research from consumers and operators to give a rounded view of the eating out market. By looking at the market from the perspectives of both consumers and operators, Eating Out-Look provides invaluable insights into what is driving eating out trends.