London: 15th January 2012 – It’s official: consumers in the UK have developed a growing appetite for fast (quick service) food. The latest data from independent foodservice research agency NPD Group shows that over half of all meals eaten out of the home are now bought from fast food restaurants. When it comes to visiting restaurants, NPD’s data reveals a trend of changing habits among British consumers. There has been a four percentage point increase in the use of quick service restaurants since 2008, with consumers making 5.5 billion visits to these outlets in 2011, compared to 5.4 billion 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 percentage points - from 19.5% in 2008 to 16.9% in the year ending September 2011. NPD 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 Foodservice for Europe believes consumers in the capital are also a key influence in the growth of the quick service sector. “Consumers in London” he says “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.”