Lunch will account for a growing proportion of eating-out spend in the coming 12 months, with the amount spent on lunch outside the home rising by 3.3% in the past three years. That’s according to new research from foodservice consultancy Horizons. Speaking at today’s lunch! trade show at London’s Business Design Centre, Emma Read, director of marketing and business development at Horizons, said: “Britain’s lunch market is worth £14.9bn, that’s 35% of the total foodservice market. “Growth over the past few years has outperformed what is essentially a flat market overall. Lunch business has risen by 3.3% on 2009 figures. We expect this growth to continue and expect the lunch market to account for closer to 36% of the total foodservice sector by 2014.” Horizons said that while many top-end restaurants have seen lunchtime trade suffer in the downturn, sales at quick service and casual dining restaurants have “remained relatively strong” as consumers down-trade, preferring something fast to eat-in or takeaway, rather than a more formal sit-down meal. “Driving the lunch market is the fact that time-pressed consumers no longer make their own lunch, preferring quick options wherever they are. They are also prompted to eat out by money-off vouchers and meal deals, many of which are predominantly lunch-based. Work pressure also means that consumers are more likely to opt for a takeaway to eat at their desk,” added Read. However, she warned eating out operators that the offer had to be right to capitalise on this growing market, as consumers are increasingly demanding. Horizons’ 2012 consumer QuickBite research showed that food quality was the biggest factor in choosing an eating out venue, with price second on the list. “Across the board consumers are becoming more discerning and particular about how they spend their money. They have high expectations and expect good quality food, friendly service and a relaxed ambience. While consumers have continued to eat out throughout the downturn, our research shows they are only willing to do so when an outlet meets these high expectations and the price is right.”