Lunch market set to grow

The UK’s lunch market looks set to grow over the next 12 months as consumers increasingly eat out wherever they are, expect a wide choice of eating out options but often want something quick, cheap and easy-to-eat.

Emma Read, director of marketing and business development with foodservice analyst Horizons, predicts that the lunch market, already worth £14.9bn, will occupy a growing share of overall foodservice sales. Read said: ‘Britain’s lunch market is worth £14.9bn, that’s 35% of the total foodservice market. Growth over the past few years has outperformed what is essentially a flat market overall. Lunch business has risen by 3.3% on 2009 figures. We expect this growth to continue and expect the lunch market to account for closer to 36% of the total foodservice sector by 2014.

The size of the lunchtime opportunity is underlined by new research from Mintel which reveals:

  • 75% of working Brits think shop bought sandwiches are overpriced
  • Over one in five Brits (22%) work through lunch more often than not
  • Over one in five (23%) say that they are just looking to ‘refuel’ at lunch
  • Just one in ten (11%) working Brits think it is important to socialise with colleagues during their lunch break.

Previous Horizons research has shown that the eating out habit is here to stay, with the average British adult eating out 1.4 times per week in 2012, a rise from once a week in 2011.

Consumers continued to eat out despite the onset of the economic downturn in 2008, but opted to spend less and order differently. Average spend dropped in 2012 to £12.30 (including drinks) from £12.69 in 2011.

However, while many top-end restaurants have seen lunchtime trade suffer, business through quick service and casual dining restaurants has remained relatively strong as consumers down-trade, preferring something fast to eat-in or takeaway, rather than a more formal sit-down meal.

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