Quick service food takes off in the UK, new NPD Group data reveals

Out-of-home eating trends

Out-of-home eating trends

Consumers in the UK have developed a growing appetite for fast (quick service) food, according to the latest data from independent food service research agency NPD Group.

It shows over half of all meals eaten out of the home are now bought from fast food restaurants.

When it comes to visiting restaurants, NPD said its research reveals consumer habits are changing. There has been a 4% increase in the use of quick service restaurants since 2008, with consumers making 5.5bn visits to these outlets in 2011, compared to 5.4bn in 2008. 

Lunch has also been an important factor in the growth of the quick service food business, accounting for almost three quarters (72%) of the sector’s growth and a 7% increase in the number of visits since 2008.

While quick service has been growing, the restaurants experiencing the greatest drop are those in the workplace and education – whose share of the market has shrunk by 2.6 % from 19.5% in 2008 to 16.9% in the year ending September 2011. 

NPD said it believes the decline in this sector is attributable to quick service restaurant chains offering menu options, promotions and discounts that attract workers and students away from their office/campus and into their restaurants.

Guy Fielding, NPD’s director of food service for Europe, said consumers in the capital are also a key influence in the growth of the quick service sector. 

“Consumers in London spent 7% more in restaurants this year and it is the quick service restaurants, serving burgers, ethnic dishes and chicken that have led that growth. 

“It’s also about the quick service restaurants giving Londoners a good deal. Meal deals and promotions account for 27% of spend at commercial restaurants in London, but they accounted for 100% of the growth. Consumers in London may eat out more than in other areas of the country, but only when the deal is right.”

NPD’s research also shows consumers in London are more likely (55%) to visit quick service restaurants, when compared to 49.5% for consumers in the rest of the country.