Almost two thirds (61%) of consumers now buy lunch on-the-go, according to new research that says people are demanding more from food-on-the-go options.

This year 27m people will spend £29m on buying lunch to go products, the survey of more than 3,000 consumers by him! found. In addition, 24% of adults, 10.8m people, buy breakfast-to-go at least once a week.

Him! said: “Consumers are eating on-the-go around the clock with lunch peaks on Fridays and breakfast peaks on Monday and Saturdays. It’s also no longer just a quick packet of crisps or sandwich a shopper wants. They want more hot food and healthy options too. New retail channels are moving into food-to-go, and winning. It’s no longer a distinct food-to-go channel.”

The study found that the top thing that would make shoppers visit a store more for breakfast is the provision of more hot food to go, followed by a breakfast meal deal and better value for money.

According to him!, a significant percentage of shoppers aren’t purchasing a drink to accompany their food, which the research company said represents a sales opportunity. Retailers are also increasingly putting breakfast and snacking pastries at till point to encourage impulse purchases, him! added.

Him! said: “The majority of purchases are consumers on the street, or in a workplace for those who don’t ‘eat in’ and pack formats must cater for this. Outlets should be providing an alternative to ‘eating on the street’, as attracting ‘eat in’ customers is worth their while. In fact, the longer customers spend-in outlet, the more they tend to spend.”

The research found that there’s an opportunity for all retailers to improve either ‘service’ or ‘ease of shop’. “Staff friendliness is particularly important in coffee shops,” him! said.

The survey was based on interviews with customers at Burger King, KFC, McDonalds, EAT, Pret A Manger, Greggs, Subway, Costa, Nero, Starbucks and independent coffee shops, along with retailers Boots, Superdrug and WH Smiths.