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How to take a bite out of the grab and go food market

Increasingly savvy consumers, changing food trends and new manufacturing methods resulting in greater choice have seen the grab and go food market account for sales of more than £20bn a year.

Growth in the sector is robust, with MCA Insight’s 2017 Food to Go report indicating a 3.8% increase, compared with less than two per cent for the wider dining-out market, with supermarkets and contemporary fast food outlets driving sales.

Lunch on the go

Grab and go has redefined the working lunch

As more outlets cash in on the trend, it’s understood that convenience is essential to the success of the grab and go food market. It’s not just for working lunches –  weekend shopping and leisure occasions now account for 22% of all grab and go food purchases.

Technology is driving change.

Many high street chains offer apps which allow ordering, payment and rewards like loyalty points – further incentivising customers to grab and go.

Simon Stenning, executive director at MCA, said: “Consumers are increasingly demanding better quality and more interesting and wider choices, and will not accept cheap and boring. Convenience has been upgraded to a ‘megatrend’, recognising this increased demand.”

True’s top tips

In order to capitalise on the growing trend for grab and go food, here are a few equipment top tips.

Maintain safety

As its name suggests, ‘grab and go’ is a fast-moving marketplace so it’s crucial that food safety is maintained at all times. Even if something has been made fresh today, it might still be hours before it’s consumed. So, regardless of whether fresh ingredients or pre-made products are being stored back-of-house, or finished products out front in an accessible merchandiser cabinet, salads, cold sandwiches and dairy-based snacks should all be stored at temperatures below 5°C.

Grab and go food

Grab and go relies on great refrigeration

And while bottled or canned beverages may be safe to drink at higher temperatures, they always taste better when they’re ice cold.

Preserve quality

It’s not just temperature you need to bear in mind. Some foods, such as pastries and desserts, require specific humidity levels to ensure they stay fresh and look their best.

An enticing display will tempt your customers

Our refrigerated display units provide consistent food-safe holding temperatures to keep your produce fresher for longer, while dry case units offer ambient temperatures for produce which doesn’t require cooling. Combination units are also available, so you can showcase both dry stock and chilled.

Optimise storage

While your display units will do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to merchandising and selling your food to go, you’ll need to be able to replenish your stock efficiently.

Grab and go food

Your storage should be easily accessible

So, whether you’re making fresh-to-order from raw ingredients or retrieving pre-prepared items, it’s important that your storage is as easily accessible and can maintain the same consistent food-safe temperatures as your display units, so you can refill quickly and easily without compromising on freshness or quality.

Think accessibility and efficiency

Air curtain merchandisers or ‘multideck’ cabinets are common in the grab and go food sector. They are often placed front-of-house and can be accessed directly by the customer.

Food to go

Chilled drinks complete a grab and go meal

Not having a door certainly ticks the accessibility box, but a glass door merchandiser unit can offer the same high-impact product visibility, while also significantly reducing the operating energy costs of the unit by comparison. Each has their advantages depending on the operation setup, which is why the True range features both.


Using equipment which serves more than one purpose can both save space and make your operations more efficient.

Grab and go food

Multifunctional prep tables are a must

If you run an open pizza or sandwich kitchen, for example, a refrigerated preparation table unit which combines ample work surface space with individual and configurable ingredient pans and convenient storage is a must.

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