The Official 2024 UK Foodservice Eating Out Review

3rd April 2024

The UK foodservice industry has shown remarkable resilience in the face of recent challenges. Despite the cost of living crisis, Britons haven’t stopped dining out, with 90% still choosing to enjoy meals out, up from 84% pre-pandemic. Mintel’s latest report on ‘UK Eating Out Review 2024’ tells us that the way we dine out is evolving. We’re here to give you the full insight into how you can capitalise on the UK market evolution and ensure your foodservice offering is leading the charge.

Takeaway vs dine-in

While takeaway continues to be a dominant force, dine-in is making a comeback. Full-service restaurants and fast-food outlets have seen the strongest rebounds post-pandemic, with growth of 25.9% and 24.7% respectively from 2019 to 2023. Interestingly, pub restaurants are leading the charge for dine-in, with 71% of visits, likely due to their family-friendly atmosphere.

Understanding the motivations behind both takeaway and dine-in preferences allows restaurants to offer a well-rounded approach that caters to the evolving needs of today’s diners. Foodservice businesses can thrive by catering to both sides of this equation – hybrid models offering dine-in and takeaway options allow customers to choose based on their needs.

Value for money is key

With inflation impacting wallets, value is a top priority for diners in 2024. Two-thirds of consumers prefer the convenience of tech-based ordering, and over half are willing to share data in exchange for personalised offers. This opens doors for businesses to leverage loyalty programs and targeted promotions.

Smaller portions are also a great way to only pay for what you need, making the experience more cost-effective. With 69% of parents wanting smaller portions of adult dishes on kids’ menus, there’s an opportunity to cater to adventurous young palates. Similarly, under-35s prioritise nutritional information on menus, highlighting a growing interest in healthy eating habits. Festive and interactive holiday menus can be a winning strategy to attract younger diners seeking Instagram-worthy experiences.

Inclusivity and independence

The tide is turning in favour of independent eateries. A whopping 69% of consumers prefer independents over chains, highlighting a desire for unique dining experiences. This trend aligns with the growing popularity of ethnic cuisines, a mainstay in the takeaway market alongside fish and chips and fast food.

However, there’s room for improvement when it comes to pricing and inclusivity for ethnic cuisines. Expanding dietary options, like halal, vegan, etc. and showcasing value will be key to attracting a wider audience.

The future of eating out

Technology is becoming an integral part of the dining experience. A staggering 68% of consumers find tech ordering convenient, while younger demographics are even more receptive, with 82% of 16-34 year olds embracing it. And with over half of all diners open to sharing data for personalised offers, it paves the way for a more customer-centric dining experience.

The UK foodservice market is poised for growth, with a projected value of £166.5 billion by 2028. By understanding consumer preferences and embracing trends like tech-enabled services, transparency, personalised experiences, and unique offerings, restaurants, cafes, and takeaway businesses can continue to thrive in the years to come.

Ready to fuel your foodservice success?

At Kara Foodservice, we’re passionate about helping you navigate the evolving foodservice landscape. Our diverse range of high-quality bakery products caters to a variety of tastes and dietary needs, helping you create delicious and memorable culinary experiences. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can partner with you to take your foodservice offering to the next level!

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