Olivia heads to the Food to Go Conference

Last week, I attended the Food to Go Conference at Ham Yard Hotel in London. It was all about, you guessed it, food to go and there were a host of speakers that I found both inspiring and interesting.


From UK Managing Director of Pret, Clare Clough who spoke about Veggie Pret, to Chris Dee, Director of Food at Harrods who took part in a Q&A discussion about how the refined retailer is focusing on food to go to feed the 42,000 customers that visit the store every day. Also, did you know Harrods is 6 floors up, 7 floors down?!

Here are my five (there were many to choose from) takeaways from the day:

1. We’ve fallen back in love with being at home. UK workers are 20% more likely to work from home, which has a direct impact on the food to go industry. Because of this, consumers are more likely to eat at home or get a delivery, meaning there’s been a 66% growth in delivery from 2013 to 2019. The focus on NPD in 2019 has been aligned to this trend.

2. The most successful food to go items in 2019 hit 3 key pointers:
Taste (top priority)
Fast service – it was noted there was a higher spend when a customer ordered via a kiosk
Good value

Partnerships also work well. For example, Sainsbury’s bringing Yo Sushi into their store meant that an already trusted brand was on their shelves.

3. UK Managing Director of Pret, Clare Clough spoke about the rise of plant-based eating and in particular, Veggie Pret which started out as a pop up. The CEO of Pret asked on a blog – how can Pret create more delicious vegetarian food? 10,000 people replied, and the most popular answer was open a veggie Pret. In the summer of 2016 Veggie Pret opened as a pop up on Broadway Street in London and now there are 10 with more on the horizon.

59% of Veggie Pret customers are meat eaters, which shows this trend for mindful eating rather than going full on Veggie or Vegan.

4. Sustainability is even bigger in 2020 and it’s all about making greater changes even if it takes more time, rather than making snap decisions.

5. Did you know that Borough Market is the only fully independent market in London, run by a board of volunteer trustees? It gets more foreign tourists than Wales.

It was a day full of learnings and I would recommend going next year, and keeping an eye on the MCA Insights website for the latest insights and trends in the food to go industry.