According to recent studies, the food to go category is anticipated to grow from £15.3bn in 2021 to £22.6bn by 2024 (Lumina).

An opportunity to aid this growth could lie within the ‘healthier you’ trend, with nutritional benefits now playing a significant role in people’s food-to-go choices.

Especially as 40% of adults in the UK are now motivated to make healthier life choices (Public Health England), making low sugar, high protein alternatives a key purchase driver for consumers.

“A post-Covid world is bringing healthy eating occasions into the spotlight, with 61% of consumers opting for healthier confectionery alternatives,” comments Rachel Austerberry, Head of Convenience & High Street, at Grenade. “Wholesalers should make the most of this by upping functional and healthier food-to-go ranges, keeping up with growing demand.”

Protein-packed products offer an ideal helping hand in that they help people to feel fuller for longer, and to be less likely to make unhealthy snacking decisions. Indicative of the power of protein filtering down to the masses, eight of the top 10 protein bars for value sales are all Grenade (IRI).

Consumers are also increasingly shunning traditional sugary products in favour of lower sugar options. Research shows that 40% of shoppers read ingredients on the pack, so it stands to reason that they care about what products contain (IGD), now turned off by foods that source a large proportion of their calories from sugar.

Grenade’s ‘core six’ protein bar flavours include White Chocolate Salted Peanut, Dark Chocolate Raspberry, Cookie Dough, White Chocolate Cookie, Peanut Nutter, and Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel.

Currently the number one protein bar in the market for cash rate of sale, Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel has the highest return on shelf space compared to any other protein bar in the market (IRI).

Pre-empting the healthy lifestyle trend, Grenade has a range of healthy food-to-go options including low sugar, high protein bars that are driving the protein bar market, with 45% market share.

Also doing well within the market are Grenade’s range of protein shakes. Without compromising on taste, they’re packed full of flavour, with each vegetarian-friendly shake containing 25g protein and being low in sugar. At less than 211 calories per 330ml bottle, they’re an ideal choice for diet-conscious drinkers who want to be satiated to avoid unhealthy snacking choices. This renders them a viable, healthier alternative to traditional shakes or smoothies that source a lot of their calories from sugar.

“Following the pandemic, consumers are firmly focused on healthier eating, so the food-to-go category needs to respond to meet their demands with healthier products that don’t compromise on taste,” says Austerberry. “Ultimately, if products fail to deliver on taste, consumers won’t buy into them. Ticking these boxes are Grenade’s Protein Bars, which are low in sugar, high in protein, taste great and clearly label their offering on-pack.”

Dawn Spencer, Pilgrim’s Food Masters Marketing, Category, Innovation & Sustainability Director GB&I, comments: “Covid-19 had a significant impact on the food-to-go category as consumers were forced to stay home throughout various lockdowns. However, as the world cautiously opens again, we are seeing a revival in the food-to-go category, with sales nearing pre-pandemic levels.”

Snacking plays an instrumental role in the food-to-category, contributing to meal deals and satisfying hungry consumers on-the-go. In fact, snacking makes up a 35% share of the food-to-go category (Kantar). With Covid-19 giving rise to an increase of at-home occasions, we saw snacking grow its significant share of the food-to-go sector, with a 54% growth since December 2020 (Kantar).

Even as the food-to-go category picks up again, snacking is likely to remain prominent either at-home or on-the-go.

Not only has Covid-19 affected how and where shoppers consume food-to-go options, it has also had an impact on what they are purchasing. One key trend we saw throughout the pandemic and expect to continue into 2022 is consumers being more health conscious with their snacking choices.

For British consumers, health has driven 29.3% of their snacking purchases in the past year (Kantar).

“Whilst classic staples like crisps and confectionary are unlikely to disappear completely, retailers should look to prioritise healthier options that cater to this growing consumer trend,” says Spencer. “For example, Fridge Raiders Chicken Bites are made with 100% real chicken breast and are a great source of protein, giving retailers the opportunity to diversify their food-to-go range and offer consumers a healthier alternative when building their meal deal.”

The lasting effects of working from home and the implementation of hybrid working models is sure to have an enormous impact on the food-to-go category.

“However, this presents an opportunity for retailers to innovate their approach to their food-to-go fixtures to ensure they can cater to both the on-the-go and at-home consumer,” adds Spencer. “Doing so will help retailers attract and retain consumers into the food-to-go category.”

Fridge Raiders has directly responded to the demand of at-home and out-of-home snacking occasions with the launch of its Fridge Raiders Chicken & Dip, Mighty Multipack and Roast Chicken Bites Grazing Tub. For on-the-go options, Fridge Raiders Mighty Multipack is a twist on its current best-selling multi pack offering, allowing shoppers to stock up on snacks to grab as they head out the door.

As shoppers’ lives get busier, the Mighty Multipack-of-store can be filled with a variety of packs from a brand consumers know and love.

The Mighty Multipack contains two Fridge Raiders Roast Chicken Bites, one Southern Style Chicken Bites and one Katsu Chicken Bites.

The Mighty Multipack has been designed with flavour and diversity in mind and gives consumers the choice between Fridge Raiders tried and tested flavours as well as the more adventurous and popular Katsu Chicken Bites, a flavour that has driven growth of 24% across the Fridge Raiders range (Kantar).

Fridge Raiders Chicken & Dip is available in two flavours, Roast Chicken with Sweet Chilli Dip and Southern Fried Chicken with BBQ Dip, making them the perfect food-to-go option offering variety and taste satisfaction for the hungry, busy consumer.

When looking at in-home occasions, grazing formats have seen a surge in demand, gaining a 14% share of the meat snacking category (Kantar).

Fridge Raiders Roast Chicken Bites Grazing Tub, available in 185g, is resealable, allowing consumers to enjoy the flavours for longer and allows retailers to satisfy shopper demand for a bigger, cost-effective solution to hunger cravings.

Darryl Burgess, Head of Sales for Weetabix, comments: “Weetabix On The Go is the UK’s number one breakfast drink and is now a £10million brand with an almost 60% share of the breakfast drinks sector (Nielsen) – we’re always looking at ways to offer a convenient breakfast for those hectic mornings.

“Convenience is still the number one need state at breakfast – throughout all the turmoil of the last 18 months, this has been consistent. No matter what your morning routine looks like, you want it to be easier – that is why Weetabix On The Go was created in the first place and we have plans to accelerate brand growth in 2022.”

Weetabix research shows that breakfast on the move has returned to its long-term behaviour levels, following the understandable dip during Covid lockdowns. There have been increasing on the go breakfast occasions since the summer, boosted by the back-to-school period and with the gradual return to offices.

Limited-edition Weetabix On The Go Caffé Latte breakfast drink contains similar caffeine content to a cup of coffee, meaning it’s a convenient two-for-one combination of breakfast and coffee.

In November Weetabix introduced new 1Litre family cartons available in Chocolate and Strawberry flavours.

Weetabix On The Go remains ahead of the game in terms of sugar content and nutritionals. The entire range is HFSS-compliant, with each bottle containing the same amount of sugar as a glass of milk, whilst the packaging also calls out the drink’s nutritional credentials, offering energy, fibre and protein.

Last September, Weetabix introduced immunity support range Weetabix On The Go Plus Immune Support. The breakfast drink is high in fibre, ideal for keeping you ‘on top’ during busy mornings on the move, and also has Vitamin D and 19g of Protein.

Weetabix On The Go Plus Immune Support is available in three on-trend flavours; Chocolate Brownie, Berry Burst and Vanilla Maple.

Weetabix On The Go’s bottles were recently redesigned to ensure that the bottle, cap and sleeve can now all be recycled together and is made from at least 30% recycled plastic – ensuring it’s a quick, easy and convenient way to recycle.

With more people than ever looking for both tasty and wholesome foods, and not wanting to compromise on health, Weetabix launched Alpen Oat Blends in October.

Available in three flavours – Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate Orange and Cocoa & Peanut – Alpen Oat Blends are a wholesome blend of oats, nuts and fruits with a caramel centre and topped with crunchy nuts or nibs. The Alpen Oat Blends bars are high in fibre and have no red traffic lights.

Weetabix now has three distinct ranges, Alpen Light, Alpen Bars and Alpen Oat Blends. All are anchored in healthy and wholesome snacking, are high fibre and have no red traffic lights.

Premier Foods has introduced two ready-to-eat dessert pots from Angel Delight, designed specifically for Food to Go chillers.

The light new flavours are each under 120 calories, and will give consumers more variety of choice in Food to Go, helping grow the on-the-go desserts category.

They come with a significant shelf-life benefit over existing to-go chiller desserts, which will help reduce wastage typically seen by yoghurts and desserts in this space.

The two dessert pots add to the Angel Delight portfolio with Chocolate & Salted Caramel, and Butterscotch & Chocolate flavours. Both 100g pots are suitable for vegetarians and are classed as non-HFSS.

Enjoyment remains one of the biggest motivators for shoppers when it comes to desserts. However, as wellbeing concerns continue to grow, more consumers are being health conscious when selecting products (IRI). The desserts offer an appealing solution for customers who are mindful of their calorie intake but still want a sweet and tasty treat.

Ben Knop, Food to Go Innovation Manager for Premier Foods, comments: “These new Angel Delight pots are an ideal solution for growing the choice of desserts for consumers shopping Food to Go. They taste great and are light enough for those looking for a sweet treat without the guilt. Angel Delight is a well-known, much-loved brand and it has grown 10% in the last year bringing in 1.1m new consumers to the brand.

“This range gives retailers something new to broaden the choice of their food to go chilled desserts offering, while crucially remaining HFSS compliant. The light, bubbly texture and delicious flavours really appeal to shoppers looking for a light treat, while the convenient format and long shelf life make the launch well suited to retailers to bolster their sweet offering in their chillers.”

The Angel Delight pots carry an MRSP of £1, and should be merchandised in the food to go chiller, alongside yoghurts. Additionally, the packaging for the on-the-go treats is fully recyclable to reduce wastage and help protect the environment.

Premier Foods has also introduced a range of meat-free pots to expand its Batchelors portfolio, catering for increasing demand for plant-based options, with a third of Brits currently identifying as a flexitarian.

Batchelors meat-free pots are available in three flavours: Smoky Facon Mac ‘n’ Cheeze, Chick’n Curry and Rice, and Sweet Chilli Chick’n Noodles.

The rapid growth of Brits following a plant-based diet is set to result in £1.1 billion in sales of meat-free products by 2024. Despite a limited product category within instant meals, a growth of 39% over a 51-week period is shown by brands offering plant-based foods. Furthermore, major retailers have a dedicated section to mirror shoppers’ demand towards flexitarian meals.

Naomi Shooman, brand director for quick meals, snacks and soup at Premier Foods, comments: “At a time when plant-based options are currently under-represented in ambient aisles – when compared to chilled and frozen – the new Batchelors range is designed to help fill this white space and help grow the meat-free opportunity for retailers.

“Plant-based innovation is key to unlocking sales and attracting new shoppers to the quick meals category, through our Meat-Free Pots we are recreating familiar flavours that people love, but with tasty alternatives to meat. The range is low in fat, containing no artificial preservatives and provide a source of protein. Quick and easy to prepare in just five minutes, the pots themselves are fully recyclable. The products, made to a vegan recipe, are ideal for busy shoppers looking for quick and easy meat-free options, without compromising on great taste.”

Batchelors Meat-Free Pots have an MRSP of £1.25 for 65g packs. The launch was supported by in-store and online shopper activity and an influencer campaign to encourage consumers to engage with the brand and try the products for themselves.

 

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