There are opportunities for food to go operators to benefit from shifting consumer spending behaviours, according to CACI.

Speaking at MCA’s recent Food to Go Conference, Arabella Dalloz, head of leisure at the location and demographic data consultancy, told delegates there have been some interesting shifts in consumer spend by demographic over the past 18 months, when looking at where consumers were prioritising spend with operators at the moment, with many food to go operators winning out over more expensive F&B brands.

Affordable and growing brands in its data set included Tortilla, Chopstix, Pret, Greggs, Leon, Coco Di Mama and German Doner Kebab. With an average transaction value of less than £30, all of these brands had seen significant growth in sales over 12 months to December 2022, she said.

“We can see that consumers are prioritising spend with affordable operators,” Dalloz explained. “Obviously there are inflationary impacts in there but actually a lot of this is driven by really successful expansion strategies.”

In terms of spend broken down by different demographic groups, the most significant spend on overall F&B was coming from the ‘executive wealth’ group – a relatively affluent group, who are spending 11.1% of their income on eating and drinking out.

As one of the biggest consumer groups in the UK it also presents a really significant opportunity for the food to go sector to tape into, Dalloz added.

The second biggest spender on F&B were ‘striving families’, at 8.5% of income, with ‘steady neighbours’ coming in at 8.4%. Interestingly Dalloz said CACI had witnessed a decline in spend from relatively affluent, younger, ‘city sophisticates’, who were now only spending 6% of their income on F&B.

However, some of these trends tied into the trends being seen in terms of the cost of living’s impact on disposable income, split by demographic group. For example, the executive wealth demographic had seen disposable income reduce by 7%, compared to 19% for city sophisticates and 20% for students.

“We know for the UK on average it’s a 10% reduction in disposable income but groups that already have relatively low disposable incomes are impacted a lot more,” Dalloz. “It’s because of that we think we are seeing this shift in terms of food to go spend and where consumers are prioritising their engagement.”