Pre-packed sandwiches

On the go food earned major convenience retailers an extra £36m in the past year – making them the fastest growing sector in food to go.

Value sales growth of 6.6% came from capitalising on Britain’s ‘convenience culture’ by expanding ranges with more varied and healthier options.

Sales of sandwiches, baguettes, sushi and prepared salads ‘to go’ grew to £584m in the 12 months to 25 March 2017 at mults’ c-stores including Tesco Express, Little Waitrose and Sainsbury’s Local, and at chains such as One Stop, McColl’s, Boots and WH Smith [IRI Convenience Market Place].

Food to go sales rose by 5% across the entire convenience channel, including petrol forecourts, symbols and indies. Sales hit £865m as stores expanded ranges “to include more innovative offerings than the sandwich”, said Martin Wood, IRI head of strategic retail insight.

Healthier options and better meal deals, with some small stores now providing fresh coffee, were encouraging people to buy on-the-go food for occasions outside of lunch. “Ready prepared food is a way of life for most time-poor people. Now there are more choices available, shoppers don’t need to compromise their health,” Wood said.

Across grocery, food to go centres, such as sandwiches and sushi, are now worth £2.3bn.

More than 1.4 billion on the go meal items are sold every year, with each shopper buying an average of 20. Sales of traditional sandwiches grew 3.8% to £1.4bn, accounting for most volume sales, but higher-priced salads and sushi showed faster growth, up 5.1% to £800m, and 12% to £100m respectively.

Meal deals have also boosted single-serve soft drinks and salted snacks, which rose 3.3% to just over £3bn and 0.4% to £0.7bn, respectively, in the past year.