The ability to offer products at an accessible price point is vital for the continued growth of the food to go sector in a challenging economic climate, Lumina Intelligence has said.

In a webinar focused on the short-term challenges and lasting changes forecast for food to go, Lumina’s senior insight manager Katie Prowse said that it appeared the sector was “very well placed to capitalise on demand for accessibly priced food, out of home”.

According to a bespoke study of new products on the market in January this year, Lumina found there had been an increase in the share of new products being launched at +£4 – 53%, compared to 34% in 2022, with 36% of new products costing between £3-4 – up from 23% in 2022, and 18% at £2-3 – down from 26% in 2022.

However, when it came to meal deals, many of the top eight food to go brands had either not increased their prices, or only by a marginal amount over the past year, with the highest priced meal deal, as at February 2023, costing £5 in Marks & Spencer.

Since then Sainsbury’s has launched a new Flourish range of meal deals for £5, capitalising on the trend for health and more premium products, and Tesco has just launched a premium meal deal for £5 for Clubcard members or £5.50 without.

According to Lumina’s new Food to Go Market Report 2023, there has been a 3ppt increase in food to go consumers identifying as being ‘very value led’ year-on-year, to 78%, with retailers the main beneficiaries of this trend in the food to go space.

“For a long time it seemed extraordinary that the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s were able to maintain their £3 meal deal price, given range improvements and the economic climate,” Prowse said. But last year prices increased, and they have done again this year, although perhaps not to the extent that we might have expected, she added.

The largest food to go operators have increased their meal deal prices by an average of 4%, which is quite a modest figure, with some, including Greggs – which has kept its meal deal price at £3.99 – choosing not to pass on cost increases to the consumer.

“Retaining low ticket credentials is key to the survival of the food to go market – a segment that thrives on consumers having a necessity for food and drink when on the go,” Prowse said.

“But it’s the continued innovation and economic recovery that will drive the size of the prize in food to go, of about £2.1bn across the next three years.”

Lumina Intelligence’s UK Food to Go Market Report 2023 is available to buy here