Global growth in consumer spending on eating out is driving an increasing presence of food and beverage options in shopping centres – often accounting for more than 20%, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield.

With spending on eating out expected to continue growing over the next 10 years, and consumers’ desire to enhance a shopping trip with social and leisure experiences, a compelling F&B offer is now critical to the success of any retail scheme, the report finds.

All four global regions examined in the report are forecast to experience growth in F&B expenditure, led by Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa.

Based on data from Oxford Economics, consumer spending is forecast to nearly double in the latter (US$182.5bn to US$363.5bn) and more than double in the former (US$1,052bn to US$2,296bn).

As such, F&B spend is forecast to grow at an annual average of 7.4% up to 2026 in both regions.

Europe and the Americas, as more mature markets, are not expected to see the same increases in consumer spending but are nonetheless expected to experience healthy F&B annual spending growth of 4.9% and 5.5% respectively.

As spending increases, customer expectation does too. Once-ubiquitous food courts, made up of common seating areas surrounded by fast food outlets, are a dying breed. While mainstream brands – with ability to pay higher rents – still dominate, landlords are recognising the importance of diversity and other concepts, such as the food hall, have evolved, while there is also a move towards creating different zones within shopping centres.

Cushman & Wakefield believes there is latent demand for more non-mainstream international food hall market place concepts, which combine restaurants with food and beverage counters and bakeries, along with the sale of cooking-related products and even cookery schools to add ‘edutainment’.

Currently, only a handful of truly international players offer such a format and there is scope for more high-quality operators to emerge and enter new markets.

Darren Yates, head of EMEA retail research & insight, Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The link between shopping and eating is stronger than ever and is evident in the significant growth in F&B outlets in recent years, particularly in shopping centres. We see this trend continuing for the foreseeable future, given that a high-quality F&B offer is now critical to the success of major retail destinations. An increasing number of locations are now incorporating formats which combine the experience of eating and buying food and entertainment, which taps into consumers’ growing interest in food culture.

“While the short to medium-term outlook for the F&B sector is positive, strong recent growth in the sector means competition in some of the more mature markets such as the USA and the UK is intensifying. As a result, weaker operators may struggle if economic growth begins to moderate and consumers rein back on discretionary spending.”

In the US the meteoric rise of food halls and restaurants is the biggest retail growth story, with more than 24,000 new restaurants added annually over the last six years.

Food hall development pipeline has grown significantly, with the entire US food hall marketplace set to more than double in four years.

In Latin America, the fast food industry has been growing thanks to the expansion of new shopping centres.

India is forecast to have the strongest annual growth of F&B sales between 2017-20 with an increase of 13.1%.

Average annual growth in China averaged 11.2% over the last four years, but this is expected to slow marginally to 10.7% a year between 2017-20.

Indonesia and the Philippines are both expected to see a strong acceleration in growth, with 10.1% and 9.6% forecast.

In Japan one major trend is the family friendly food court featuring elements such as an enhanced kids’ play area.

Adult-oriented urban food courts which differentiate themselves from the competition through celebrity chefs, or by bringing in local area restaurants, are also popular.

Spain was the largest F&B market in Europe in 2016, with consumer spending on eating out ahead of the UK, Italy, Germany and France.

Turkey is forecast to see the strongest growth in F&B sales between 2017-20, with average annual growth of 8.8%.

Central & Eastern European markets such as Romania, Bulgaria and Poland are also set for strong growth.

Saudi Arabia is expected to see the strongest growth in sales in the F&B sector between 2017-20, with average annual growth of 8.8%, with more modest growth of 5.6% expected in South Africa and the UAE.

The rising population of young people in Africa and the Middle East is attracting more international brands, with diversification away from oil dependency towards other sectors such as tourism supporting strong F&B growth over the medium to longer term.

South Africa has the most developed F&B market in Africa, with international brands continuing to make inroads into the country.