Appetite for lunch growing

Operators must get their offer right as consumers’ expectations rise, says foodservice analyst


CONSUMERS’ appetite for eating out at lunch time is set to grow over the next 12 months, a new report has claimed.

Research from foodservice analyst Horizons suggests the lunch market will grow its share of the overall foodservice marketplace over the year as more consumers choose to eat outside of the home. The average British adult is said to eat out 1.4 times a week, up from once a week in 2011.
Horizons said the lunch market already accounts for 35% of foodservice sales, with a value of around £14.9 billion, and expects lunch to account for 36% of the overall market by 2014.
Acknowledging that many top-end restaurants have seen lunchtime trade suffer, the foodservice market analyst said business through quick service and casual dining restaurants has remained “relatively strong” as consumers ‘down-trade’, preferring something fast to eat rather than a formal sit-down meal.
“Consumers are also prompted to eat out by money-off vouchers and meal deals, many of which are predominantly lunch-based,” said Emma Read, director of marketing and business development at Horizons.
But while Horizons found that consumers are eating out more regularly now than they were in 2011, they are spending less per visit. In 2012 the average spend dropped to £12.30, from £12.69 last year.
Citing earlier research from the analyst, which showed consumers consider food quality ahead of price when choosing where to eat out, Read warned operators that their lunch offer has to be right to capitalise on this growing market, as consumers are increasingly demanding higher standards.

Consumers expect good quality food, friendly service and a relaxed ambience.

“Across the board consumers are becoming more discerning and particular about how they spend their money,” she added.
“They have high expectations and expect good quality food, friendly service and a relaxed ambience.
“While consumers have continued to eat out throughout the downturn, our research shows they are only willing to do so when an outlet meets these high expectations and the price is right.”

Image – The average British adult eats out 1.4 times a week, up from once a week last year.