Analysis by Sheila Eggleston - competition hots up with bake-off - forecourts and CTNs move in - merchandising is critical - getting a foot in the office door - sandwiches is the chilled favourite Eating on the go has become a way of life. Fuelled by longer working hours and snacking habits, it's a goldmine of opportunity for the multiples, c-stores, forecourts and CTNs. And they are all in there, vying to capture the business, but getting the mix right is essential for success, particularly because consumers who eat on the hoof are looking for instant satisfication. Dual siting of chiller cabinets as well as PoS material and promotional activity, play a major role in lifting sales. Meal deals that offer a sandwich, a soft drink and a packet of crisps are popular, as are packs of three sandwiches for the price of two to satisfy demand for a bigger eat. Spar has introduced microwaveable snacks that are being sold at 99p to encourage trial. Spar trading controller Allan Maxted says: "We recommend a separate snack chiller so near to the front of store that you almost trip over it on the way in and out." Spar's top performer is sandwiches. with a 27-strong own label line which Maxted says is the right number. "The top 10 products still reap 75%-80% sales," says Maxted. "We need whole store delivery and the best way of achieving it for Spar is through our supplier, Foodservice Centre, which uses big regional players that have delivery networks and work to a common specification, which we name." "People buy sandwiches as much on the way to work or going home as they do at lunchtime, and you need to have the product available. "We are trying to increase interest with hot microwaveable snacks. We started with burgers in buns last year and moved to donner and chicken kebabs in April and these are available all day long." Sandwiches top the bestseller chilled snack list and, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres Sandwich Trak, fillings which are old favourites are still the winners in the £3.2bn sandwich market. Sandwich Trak is a continuous tracking survey across the country asking people about their sandwich purchases. Account director Andy Mitchell says: "One of the main benefits is that it can track developments in the market. It's not just a snapshot. "It has noted, for example, that where distribution once concentrated on the multiples and on people who originally grew the market ­ bakeries and sandwich bars ­ we are now seeing newer sectors such as forecourts and CTNs." Hazlewood Chilled Foods believes that quality and inventiveness is making the sandwich lunch ever more attractive and the market is showing good growth of around 10% a year. Hazlewood's research has isolated four mood-based segments for the sandwich category and shows that segmenting a range by mood ­ healthy, hungry, something special and something simple ­ and packaging and merchandising accordingly, makes the choice easier for shoppers and speeds up sales. Ginsters marketing controller Larry File says Ginsters is at the forefront of developments and is the brand investing most heavily in the market. It supplies more than 9,000 UK retail customers with savoury snacks six days a week via a fleet of 130 vans. Its original Cornish pasty is the largest selling branded product in the chilled savoury market [TNS 52 weeks to September last year] while sales of its 18-strong sandwich range are worth £65m a year. These are premium priced at an average £2.19 each. The company says price reflects the quality of the ingredients, and that consumers may buy a cheap product once but repeat purchases and customer loyalty come from satisfaction. The company has embarked on a heavyweight press and poster campaign this year ­ part of a £3.5m marketing package for the brand this year. Three new lines will be available from August 14 ­ Ginsters Roaster, Cheese and Onion Slice with Leeks, and Scotch Egg Bar. Alldays has 613 company-owned stores and about 29 franchised. Bake-off is in 220 stores and could be increased, it says. Trading controller of fresh and chilled Mike Absalom says: "From the initial launch of bake-off years ago, food on the move has progressed and hot food is a key element of the operation. We are looking at how we can move hot food into our base." As part of this, the group has just signed a deal with Cuisine de France to install newly branded L'Art du Pain bake-off units and look at C de F's hot food to go for its stores. In general, the supplier will be closely involved. "Training is a key element, particularly in how we merchandise the products. This is about consumption within two to three minutes of purchase so it is vital where we site them. They could be on moveable units you can wheel about, for example," Absalom says. "Forecourts have cleverly designed shops so that you walk past all the food before you pay. You may not be hungry then, or want to buy, but you'll remember it for later and return." A notable success for Alldays has been small, prepacked single units of fruit. "Its always been difficult with desserts but these supplied by Sara Produce are moving exceptionally well at between 35p-39p each," says Absalom. Londis is a firm believer in the power of brands and has linked up with a number of chilled food companies to offer a subsidised snacking chiller in four sizes called Snack Express. It has negotiated a substantial sum of money from the suppliers to offer retailers £500 off the first 200 chillers bought before the end of the year. Trading director John Taylor says: "Chilled snacks are a major opportunity within Londis and in order to capitalise on that we decided to heavily subsidise the range of chilled cabinets we have been marketing for 12 months or more. "We have an effective supply of sandwiches through Ginsters and savoury snacks through Pork Farms. We are 40% up on Ginsters year on year. Dairylea Dunkers 35%, Cheestrings 45% and Peperami 40%. And that's before we started this initiative. Our retailers have been doing it on their own, but now growth will rocket even more." Londis bestsellers include Müller yogurts and Pork Farm individual pork pies, and it says it is deriving significant volume from filled baguettes. Londis has 600 bake-offs in 2001 stores and the baguettes and hot savouries packed on the premises, doughnuts and other sweet savouries are in major growth. "In the main we use Country Choice and its Bake n' Bite has developed in our business," says Taylor. Cuisine de France is hoping to carve a niche in the food on the move sector with its specially designed Hotshop unit. It has been available in Ireland for more than two years and developed in the UK for the past year. Two units are available ­ a serving counter and a help yourself cabinet ­ which can hold pies and pasties, potato products and pizza style snacks, to name a few. One bestseller is the breakfast roll ­ a demi baguette filled with sausage, bacon and white pudding. Its potato cup ensures portion control, while Hotshop bags come in two sizes for single and multi purchase. Country Choice says before it introduced its branded Bake n' Bite concept there was a big difference in the standard of presentation which failed to do justice to the quality of its range. MD Martin Bott says: "We have been able to rectify this by introducing a branded concept. We make no profit from the sale of packaging and all our PoS material is free because we understand that anything that enables our customers to achieve greater pull through benefits us as well." "Today's 24/7 culture calls on retailers to meet demand from busy consumers for high quality, cost-effective food on the move snacks that are convenient and indulgent," says Arkady Craigmillar marketing director Andrew Adam. In addition to savoury snacks under the Bon Vivant brand, it also supplies products to satisfy those with a sweet tooth ­ individually wrapped cakes and doughnuts under the Simpsons brand and US style cakes under the Krumfins name to be bought singly. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}