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Attitudes Towards Lunch Out-of-Home - UK - October 2016

“While the majority of UK adults still buy lunch out of home, an increase in non-users suggests a cautious mind-set as real incomes come under pressure. Restaurants innovate in ordering management technology to rival their grab-and-go competitors for the custom of increasingly time-poor consumers. C-store formats and supermarkets that utilise cheaper staff and ingredients and sell grab-and-go food at higher margins than restaurants compete on price by offering healthy and low-cost meal deals in a bid to drive up spend. Consumers' willingness to eat packed lunches bodes well for meal kits that focus more heavily on fresh and natural ingredients.”
– Trish Caddy, Foodservice Analyst

This report examines the following issue:

  • Consumers are generally time-poor and need nutritious solutions
  • Snacks and drinks could capture lunchtime diners
  • Frugal mentality likely to see packed lunch usage gain momentum

Mintel’s research into out-of-home lunch options shows that consumers are generally time-poor and need nutritious solutions. The market is ruled by the major supermarkets having strong grab-and-go offerings. A look across the shelves in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Marks & Spencer shows the innovation in the out-of-home sector with everything from meal deals to layered salads in jars without breaking the £4 ceiling. Such inventive flavours lead supermarkets to encroach into specialists’ territory. A lunch menu centred on snacks accompanied by drinks could also encourage lunchtime diners to try a wider number of dishes and offers growth potential for out-of-home lunch operators. Meanwhile, weakening of consumer confidence is likely to see packed lunch usage gain momentum.

This Report examines consumer behaviour and attitudes towards foods eaten at lunchtime by adults, with a focus on out-of-home occasions. It explores lunch habits in terms of spending, venue choice, spending behaviours and attitudes towards buying lunch out of home. It also examines selected initiatives by operators in this market, such as product and venue development.

This Report is primarily based on Mintel’s exclusive primary research of consumer behaviours and attitudes conducted online in July 2016 featuring a national representative sample of 2,000 internet users aged 16+.

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Eating out remains a key spending area but real incomes under pressure
              • Foodservice adopts the ‘Buck Brexit’ attitude
                • Operators face rising costs and shortfall of staff
                  • Key players
                    • Product innovation around health
                      • Ordering management systems
                        • Lunchbox ideas move from home to retail
                          • The consumer
                            • The majority of UK adults buy lunch out of home
                              • Increase in non-users suggests a cautious mind-set
                                • Figure 1: Frequency of buying lunch out of home, July 2016
                              • An everyday lunch hits a £4 ceiling
                                • Figure 2: Approximate spend on a lunch out of home on an everyday occasion, July 2016
                              • Leisure lunch purchasers willing to spend
                                • Figure 3: Approximate spend on a lunch out of home on a leisure occasion, July 2016
                              • Supermarkets encroach on the specialists’ territory
                                • Scope for restaurants, pubs and bars to push leisure occasions
                                  • Bakery shops and fast food outlets grab a slice of the lunch market
                                    • Figure 4: Venues visited for lunch out of home, July 2016
                                  • Younger people tend to snack leisurely
                                    • Drinks bought by a majority of lunch purchasers
                                      • Figure 5: Contents of a typical lunch meal, July 2016
                                    • Consumers are eating to feel better
                                      • Technology may entice time-poor consumers to use restaurants
                                        • Potential for loyalty cards to drive footfall
                                          • Figure 6: Attitudes towards eating lunch out of home, July 2016
                                        • Brown-bag lunch is vastly popular
                                          • Figure 7: Packed lunch usage, July 2016
                                        • Having control of ingredients drives consumers to pack their own lunch
                                          • Frugal mentality plays into consumers’ approach to packed lunches
                                            • Figure 8: Behaviours of packed lunch users, July 2016
                                          • Workplace facilities create opportunities for meal kits
                                            • Figure 9: Facilities available at the workplace, July 2016
                                          • What we think
                                          • Issues and Insights

                                            • Consumers are generally time-poor and need nutritious solutions
                                              • The facts
                                                • The implications
                                                  • Snacks and drinks could capture lunchtime diners
                                                    • The facts
                                                      • The implications
                                                        • Frugal mentality likely to see packed lunch usage gain momentum
                                                          • The facts
                                                            • The implications
                                                            • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Eating out remains a key spending area
                                                                • Targeting Britain’s ageing population
                                                                  • Foodservice adopts the ‘Buck Brexit’ attitude
                                                                    • Rising costs and shortfall of staff head concerns for operators
                                                                    • Market Drivers

                                                                      • Eating out remains a key discretionary spending area
                                                                        • Figure 10: Selected consumer spending priorities (after bills), November 2009-August 2016
                                                                        • Figure 11: Packed lunch usage, July 2016
                                                                      • Core user group set for stunted growth
                                                                        • Figure 12: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2011-21
                                                                      • Targeting Britain’s ageing population
                                                                        • Improvements in the workforce
                                                                          • Figure 13: Employment and unemployment trends, 2011-16 and 2016-21
                                                                        • Rising costs and shortfall of staff head concerns for operators
                                                                          • Further rises in National Living Wage pose a challenge
                                                                            • Risk of shortfall of staff
                                                                              • Foodservice adopts the ‘Buck Brexit’ attitude
                                                                                • Brands ramp up expansion plans
                                                                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                                                  • Ordering management systems drive spend
                                                                                    • Healthier grab-and-go options bolster sales
                                                                                      • Lunchbox ideas move from home to retail
                                                                                      • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                        • Electronic payment technology takes off
                                                                                          • Greggs says healthier options bolstered sales
                                                                                            • Pinterest inspires consumers to pack lunch…
                                                                                              • …and lunch ideas move from home to retail
                                                                                                • Figure 14: Examples of BOL Salad Jar products in the UK, 2016
                                                                                            • Market Segmentation

                                                                                              • Expansion
                                                                                                  • Figure 15: Selected lunch foodservice brands, by number of outlets, 2012-16
                                                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                • The majority of UK adults buy lunch out of home
                                                                                                  • Increase in non-users suggests a cautious mind-set
                                                                                                    • Approximate spend on a lunch out of home
                                                                                                      • Supermarkets encroach on the specialists’ territory
                                                                                                        • Younger people tend to snack leisurely
                                                                                                          • Consumers are eating to feel better
                                                                                                            • Brown-bag lunch is vastly popular
                                                                                                              • Meal kit opportunities
                                                                                                              • Frequency of Buying Lunch Out of Home

                                                                                                                • Nearly three in four Brits buy lunch out of home
                                                                                                                  • Figure 16: Frequency of buying lunch out of home, July 2016
                                                                                                                • One in five are heavy users of lunch for leisure occasions
                                                                                                                  • Figure 17: Frequency of buying lunch out of home, 2015 and 2016
                                                                                                                • Increase in non-users suggests a cautious mind-set
                                                                                                                  • A noticeable amount of non-users among working adults
                                                                                                                    • A significant group of 35-44s buy lunch out of home
                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Any buyers of lunch out of home, by age, July 2016
                                                                                                                  • Approximate Spend on a Lunch Out of Home

                                                                                                                    • Average spend peaks at nearly £4 for an everyday lunch…
                                                                                                                        • Figure 19: Approximate spend on a lunch out of home on an everyday occasion, July 2016
                                                                                                                      • …rises to £12.49 for lunch on a leisure occasion
                                                                                                                          • Figure 20: Approximate spend on a lunch out of home on a leisure occasion, July 2016
                                                                                                                      • Venues Visited for Lunch Out of Home

                                                                                                                        • Supermarkets attract three in five users to buy everyday lunches
                                                                                                                          • Consumers are going to restaurants, pubs and bars for leisurely lunches
                                                                                                                            • Figure 21: Venues visited for lunch out of home, July 2016
                                                                                                                          • Scope for bakery shops, fast food outlets to grab a slice of the lunch market
                                                                                                                          • Contents of a Typical Lunch Meal

                                                                                                                            • Drinks bought by a majority of lunch purchasers
                                                                                                                              • A third of everyday users bought drinks from fast food outlets
                                                                                                                                • Strong interest in buying drinks from restaurant/pub/bar for a leisure occasion
                                                                                                                                  • Snacking occasions offer growth potential for out-of-home lunch operators
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 22: Contents of a typical lunch meal, July 2016
                                                                                                                                  • Snacks lead six in ten to be heavy everyday users of supermarkets
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 23: Venues visited for lunch out of home for an everyday occasion, by contents of a typical lunch meal, July 2016
                                                                                                                                  • Room to encourage buying main course meals from café/coffee shops for a leisure occasion
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Venues visited for lunch out of home for a leisure occasion, by contents of a typical lunch meal, July 2016
                                                                                                                                • Attitudes towards Eating Lunch Out of Home

                                                                                                                                  • A proper lunchtime break is important to two-thirds of lunch purchasers
                                                                                                                                    • The flexibility to customise a dish to one’s taste is appealing
                                                                                                                                      • “Having a healthy lunch makes me feel better during the afternoon”
                                                                                                                                        • Loyalty cards have big influence on venue choice
                                                                                                                                          • Voting on new lunch options appeals to a fifth of lunch purchasers
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 25: Attitudes towards eating lunch out of home, July 2016
                                                                                                                                        • Packed Lunch Usage

                                                                                                                                          • Half of Brits eat packed lunch
                                                                                                                                            • Three in four non-lunch purchasers could be skipping lunch altogether
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 26: Packed lunch usage, by those not buying lunch out of home, July 2016
                                                                                                                                          • Behaviours of Packed Lunch Users

                                                                                                                                            • Wanting control of ingredients is the biggest motivation to pack a lunch
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 27: Behaviours of packed lunch users, July 2016
                                                                                                                                            • Frugal mentality comes in a close second
                                                                                                                                            • Facilities Available at the Workplace

                                                                                                                                              • Workplace facilities rival out-of-home lunch options…
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 28: Facilities available at the workplace, July 2016
                                                                                                                                              • …but creates an opportunity for meal kits
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 29: Examples of meal kit and ready-to-eat products in the UK, 2016
                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                • Consumer research methodology

                                                                                                                                                Attitudes Towards Lunch Out-of-Home - UK - October 2016

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