A new report has shown that increasing flexibility around mealtime and advances in technology are opening up increasing opportunities for operators.

The Eating Out – Today and Tomorrow report from Sacla – showed almost 25% of recent meals eaten by respondents had been outside traditional meal times and that 52% of workers are fitting meals around unpredictable working hours.

The report suggests that operators who are flexible enough to adapt to changing lifestyles can tap into huge areas of growth.

Street food is identified as one of the trends to benefit from new ways of thinking about mealtimes, with 30% saying they plan to eat more meals from street vendors in the coming years.

The research, based on interviews with 2,000 consumers, also shows that the importance of deals and discounts shows no signs of abating. A total of 35% of those respondents who said they were eating out more cited deals/discounts as a main driver.

The report also highlighted the willingness of British consumers to try new foods, with 66% describing themselves as passionate about food and drink and 62% saying they were “totally adventurous” in terms of cuisine. The over-65s were shown to be particularly keen to try new food with three in five “totally adventurous” with new cuisine.

Technological advancements were a point of consternation in the poll, with 41% saying they wanted to see recent visitor reviews online before visiting an outlet. However, 37% said they would prefer to eat in a tech free environment, with the figure only dropping to 32% for Generation Y.

Clare Blampied, managing director at Sacla’ UK, said: “The launch of Eating Out – Today and Tomorrow responds to the UK’s increasing passion towards food and consumers’ higher expectations when it comes to dining out-of-home.

“We are extremely excited to have produced this brand new trends-driven report. It delivers an in-depth look into the foodservice industry, and provides strategic insight for operators looking to improve their offering.”

Paul Flatters, managing director at Trajectory, which produced the report, said: “This provides a fresh perspective on UK consumer attitudes, behaviours and expectations. Consumers feel less constricted in their behaviour by traditional norms of time, place and social status, a core theme throughout the report and a concept we labelled the deregulation of life. The four fundamental elements of deregulation of life – time, place, individualism and mobile devices – demand that foodservice operators consider how they could or should offer the flexibility and choice to match today’s deregulated lifestyles.”