Fresh food on the go

Consumers want a choice of fresh, filling and healthy food on the go. We’re developing new products that do just that.

Food To Go is an area of the market that’s really taking off. A third of the UK population enter shops and quick service food retailers with the sole purpose of buying food to eat on the go every week. On average they spend £411 a year on this food, with 86% of consumers making repeat purchases.

These consumers have created a booming area of growth, which means that more eating-on-the-move consumption occasions exist than ever before. Street food is everywhere, while pop-up restaurants and high street outlets all offer the latest on-trend meals and snacks.

Understanding the Food To Go market

We wanted to know everything we could about the Food To Go shopper: their wants, unmet needs, habits, loves and bug bears, and where we could find a genuine way to add value to this already proliferating category. So we spent time walking in their shoes, immersing ourselves in the lives of real people to truly get a feel for what Food To Go meant to them and how it fitted into their lives.

We got on trains with commuters, we went to work with professionals, we joined working parents and their families, and spent time travelling with a man in a van!

Looking for global trends

We also bought every type of food designed to be eaten on the go from big stores, independent shops and road-side kiosks. We pulled products and packaging apart and ate as much as we could to really get to grips with the offering.

We travelled far and wide to make sure that we didn’t miss anything – from London to Leeds, Manchester, Paris and New York. The most exciting and innovative place we visited? Manchester. Its vibrant food scene is leading the way in exciting food, street markets and pop-ups.

Our travels, tasting, testing and journeys with consumers gave us consumer centric insights and inspiration from which to develop market-leading plans and products for this category. And because everybody is a Food To Go consumer, everyone at Natures Way has become really enthusiastic about this part of our journey.

Rolling out new products

These experiences yielded rich and powerful insights – and identified a clear gap in this sector. Consumers told us that what they really wanted was to eat fresh, filling and healthy food on the go at any time of the day. Something a market focused on sandwiches, wraps and pasta didn’t genuinely offer.

Consumers wanted lighter food that was filling and salads that were crisp, fresh and appealing. They wanted flavours that were interesting, but low risk enough to reassure them that they wouldn’t be wasting money on something they might not like. Walking in the shoes of the consumer taught us that breakfast time for one is lunch time for another and that understanding the consumer mission was crucial. To meet these needs we had to branch out from simply creating a ‘salad to go,’ into creating a fresh, healthy offering that is appetising all day.

Our shopping experiences also told us that not only are consumers protein-hungry but they have a real desire for the added flavour and texture of nuts. So as well as entering a new category we also added nuts as a new ingredient to our product mix. Technically it’s been a tough call but we’ve cracked it because it’s what the consumer wants.

After months of insight gathering and consumer research, in spring 2015 we proudly launched a range of Food To Go products for Tesco:

Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad

A simple and popular recipe and taste profile , this salad has been a huge hit with consumers. Tasty and healthy, chicken is a great source of lean, low fat protein. This well-loved staple not only lends itself to muscle growth and development, but it is high in an essential amino acid called tryptophan – used by the body to make serotonin, which promotes sleep and a balanced mood.

Spiced Chicken, Quinoa & Cashew Nut Salad

This high protein salad unites maximum flavour with optimum nutrition. Quinoa has twice the protein content of rice or barley and is a great source of calcium, magnesium and manganese. Part of the same family as beets, chard and spinach, it been grown in South America for thousands of years. Such is its contemporary popularity that 2013 was named by the UN ‘International Quinoa Year’!

Tuna, Egg and Feta Salad

This salad is high in protein, designed to cater for the trend toward high protein meals and snacks. A great combination of low fat tuna, vitamin D rich feta and high-quality protein egg. The humble egg has all eight essential amino acids that we can’t synthesis in our bodies. Egg whites are a rich source of selenium, Vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Egg yolks are a source of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and lecithin. A nutrient rich salad that's a hit with health conscious men and women alike!

Chicken, Almond & Cashew Nut Salad

This delicious, high protein meal really packs a nutritional punch with vitamin E, manganese and antioxidant phytonutrients that is also said to aid heart health. Health studies have suggested almonds may be able to play a role in weight reduction, cholesterol reduction and lowering the glycaemic response of a high carbohydrate meal

We’re pleased to say that our insights have been spot on and demand for these salads is high.

Food to Go trends to watch

Breakfast on the move

Nearly 1 in 7 breakfasts are eaten outside the home. This is an area that’s set to develop, going beyond traditional porridge and yoghurts to encompass grain-based porridges and Bircher muesli with fresh fruit or fruit compotes.

Chia seeds are fast nudging granola off centre stage when it comes to on-trend breakfasts and are increasingly being used as a topping to give texture to foods. Native to Mexico and Guatemala, Chia seeds are a firm favourite of the health conscious food scene but now are really crossing into the mainstream.

Healthy snacking

Consumers are looking for healthier snack options, from small pots of edamame beans to vegetable skewers. The trend is towards snacks that offer a quick hit of protein and nutrients from salad or cooked vegetables.

We picked up really exciting, emerging trends in things like ‘packet protein,’ where consumers keen to maximise their protein intake on the go are buying dried and fresh protein in pouches or clip packs. We think this trend is set to grow and develop into mainstream retail behaviour and products.