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UK Attitudes Towards Lunch Out-of-Home market report

"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
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Delivery and drive-thrus increasing convenience
              • More operators offering brunch
                • UK hit by a Mexican wave
                  • Consumer confidence has taken a hit
                    • Companies and brands
                      • Mobile ordering rollout
                        • Brunch is big business
                          • Vending machines go healthy
                            • Pret expanding fast
                              • The consumer
                                • Increase in purchasing for both everyday and leisure occasions
                                  • Figure 1: Trends in buying lunch out of home, July 2016 and July 2017
                                • Largest rise in purchasing multiple times per month
                                  • Figure 2: Frequency of purchasing lunch out of home, July 2017
                                • State of mind biggest influencer
                                  • Figure 3: Factors influencing what to buy for lunch out of home, Ranked by everyday occasion, July 2017
                                • Mood-boosting effect of food widely appreciated but workday lunches functional
                                  • Figure 4: Agreement with lunch and food-related attitudes, July 2017
                                • Half influenced by the weather while men most impacted by social media
                                  • Figure 5: Agreement with attitudes related to influential factors on lunch choice, July 2017
                                • Weekend and weekday drivers differ
                                  • Figure 6: Factors influencing where to buy lunch out of home in a typical week, July 2017
                                • Consumers take a balanced approach to health
                                  • Figure 7: Behaviours related to health and nutritional information, July 2017
                                • Little consensus on what constitutes healthy food
                                  • Figure 8: Attitudes related to health and nutritional information, July 2017
                                • Lunch destination and menu checking common
                                  • Figure 9: Consumer lunch planning behaviours, July 2017
                                • Young males most likely to ‘venue hop’
                                  • Figure 10: Consumer lunchtime behaviours, July 2017
                                • Females keener on smaller dishes while men more likely to snack
                                  • Figure 11: Attitudes towards lunch as a meal, July 2017
                                • What we think
                                • Issues and Insights

                                  • How can operators attract spend if consumers begin to cut back on lunch out of home?
                                    • The facts
                                      • The implications
                                        • Using health to boost lunchtime spend
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                            • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                              • Delivery and drive-thrus increasing convenience
                                                • More operators offering brunch
                                                  • UK hit by a Mexican wave
                                                    • Increased appreciation of functional foods
                                                      • Instagram inspiring a nation of food lovers
                                                        • Consumer confidence has taken a hit
                                                        • Market Drivers

                                                          • More operators delivering
                                                            • Drive-thrus increasing convenience
                                                              • More operators offering brunch
                                                                • UK hit by a Mexican wave
                                                                  • Figure 12: Selected Mexican foodservice brands, by number of outlets, 2011-17
                                                                • Increased appreciation of functional foods
                                                                  • Instagram inspiring a nation of food lovers
                                                                    • Consumer confidence has taken a hit
                                                                    • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                      • Mobile ordering rollout
                                                                        • Brunch is big business
                                                                          • Vending machines go healthy
                                                                            • Pret expanding fast
                                                                            • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                              • Mobile ordering rollout
                                                                                • Brunch is big business
                                                                                  • Vending machines go healthy
                                                                                    • Costa increases lunch offer
                                                                                      • Crussh increases partnerships
                                                                                      • Market Segmentation

                                                                                        • Pret expanding fast
                                                                                          • Figure 13: Selected lunch foodservice brands, by number of outlets, 2012-17
                                                                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                        • Increase in purchasing for both everyday and leisure occasions
                                                                                          • State of mind biggest influencer
                                                                                            • New and custom dishes more for leisure occasions
                                                                                              • Mood-boosting effect of food widely appreciated but workday lunches functional
                                                                                                • Half of lunch purchasers influenced by the weather
                                                                                                  • Weekend and weekday drivers differ
                                                                                                    • Consumers take a balanced approach to health
                                                                                                      • Lunch destination and menu checking common
                                                                                                        • Young males most likely to ‘venue hop’
                                                                                                          • Females keener on smaller dishes while men more likely to snack
                                                                                                          • Frequency of Purchasing Lunch Out of Home

                                                                                                            • Increase in purchasing for both everyday and leisure occasions
                                                                                                                • Figure 14: Trends in buying lunch out of home, July 2016 and July 2017
                                                                                                              • Largest rise in purchasing multiple times per month
                                                                                                                • Figure 15: Frequency of purchasing lunch out of home, July 2017
                                                                                                            • Influential Factors behind Lunch Food Choice

                                                                                                              • State of mind biggest influencer
                                                                                                                • New and custom dishes more for leisure occasions
                                                                                                                    • Figure 16: Factors influencing what to buy for lunch out of home, by everyday occasion, July 2017
                                                                                                                  • Mood-boosting effect of food widely appreciated but workday lunches functional
                                                                                                                      • Figure 17: Agreement with lunch and food-related attitudes, July 2017
                                                                                                                    • Half of lunch purchasers influenced by the weather
                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Agreement with attitudes related to influential factors on lunch choice, July 2017
                                                                                                                    • Young males’ food choices most influenced by social media
                                                                                                                      • Customisable lunch dishes most sought by regular leisure purchasers
                                                                                                                          • Figure 19: Frequency of purchasing lunch out of home for a leisure occasion, by factors of most influence when buying lunch for a leisure occasion, July 2017
                                                                                                                        • Influences differ by frequency of lunch purchasing for an everyday occasion
                                                                                                                            • Figure 20: Frequency of purchasing lunch out of home for an everyday occasion, by factors of most influence when buying lunch for an everyday occasion, July 2017
                                                                                                                        • Influential Factors behind Lunch Venue Choice

                                                                                                                          • Weekend and weekday drivers differ
                                                                                                                            • Health less of a concern at weekends
                                                                                                                              • Figure 21: Factors influencing where to buy lunch out of home in a typical week, July 2017
                                                                                                                          • The Role of Health on Lunch Out of Home

                                                                                                                            • Health more of a concern for everyday lunch occasions
                                                                                                                              • Consumers take a balanced approach to health
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 22: Behaviours related to health and nutritional information, July 2017
                                                                                                                                • Little consensus on what constitutes healthy food
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 23: Attitudes related to health and nutritional information, July 2017
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Attitudes towards lunch out of home – CHAID – Tree output, August 2017
                                                                                                                                • The Lunch Out of Home Planning Process

                                                                                                                                  • Lunch destination and menu checking common
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 25: Consumer lunch planning behaviours, July 2017
                                                                                                                                • Behaviours at Lunch Foodservice Venues

                                                                                                                                  • Young males most likely to ‘venue hop’…
                                                                                                                                    • …be influenced by new items and in-store displays…
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 26: Consumer lunchtime behaviours, July 2017
                                                                                                                                    • …and eat on the go
                                                                                                                                    • Attitudes towards Lunch as a Meal

                                                                                                                                      • Females keener on smaller dishes while men more likely to snack
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 27: Attitudes towards lunch as a meal, July 2017
                                                                                                                                      • Brunch takeover
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                          • Consumer research methodology