Mintel has released a new study examining lunchtime eating. According to the research firm, sandwich shops, cafes and coffee houses are growing fast, around 34% compared to 30.2% for the informal pub restaurant sector. While the entire eating out market is worth £27.5bn, Mintel estimates the sandwich bar and coffee shop sector to be worth around £7bn. Mintel has found that the market is driven by the shortened lunch hours of many British workers. As many simply take “half an hour to refuel” and for whom “the midday meal is often considered an inconvenience” the report has found that speed of service and proximity to the workplace are particularly important in the sector. It also said, however, that some workers, primarily those in search of hot food options, are sometimes driven by value for money considerations rather than speed of service or location. At 51%, the sandwich is the most frequently bought item, with a further 10% of consumers regularly buying wraps and hot food options like paninis. But consumers, said Mintel, tends to be “promiscuous” about brand, somewhat health conscious and under 44-years-old, Mintel has also noted that the market has become more competitive. With burger chains adopting salads and sandwiches, forecourts increasingly selling soup, sandwiches and crisps, and coffee shops diversifying into hot sandwiches. It concludes that the sector is “set to increase further due to their proficiency in accommodating the demands of the ever more time-constrained consumer.”