Last week BSA brought the sandwich and food-to-go industry together at an event designed to share insights and promote networking. The audience heard from some excellent speakers, drawn from across the sector, at this session created specifically for our members. Here’s what we took as the key themes from the day.


BSA set up for a significant 2020

Jim Winship opened the session with a summary of the BSA’s areas of current focus. Our underlying purpose is to represent the interests of the sandwich and food-to-go industry in the UK, including acting as the voice of our industry, challenging legislation, on our members' behalf, and bringing our sector together to learn and share in sessions like our members' breakfast briefings, and of course the Sammies.

Jim drew attention to some of the current programmes underway. Listeria for example, is an issue under discusssion right now, particularly with relevance to how food is handled in higher risk environments such as hospitals.  BSA is working with a range of government and NHS bodies to ensure that the right guidelines are in place to make sure food is handled safely in these types of environments. Allergens too has been an area of recent focus, whereby the BSA is keen to ensure that guidelines around this from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are appropriate and practical.

He also highlighted upcoming activities and events. A dedicated meeting looking at the issue of packaging recyclability will take place on February 12 in London, bringing our sector together to outline progress to date and priorities ahead. He then called out two further key dates for members: the next members’ breakfast session on March 25 (for which you can sign up here), and the Sammies, our annual awards for the sandwich and food-to-go sector, on May 7. Entries for the Sammies will close on February 14 - he urged those in the room not to delay with their entries. Click here to access the full January association update for members.

The IRI view: modest growth, but food-to-go retains good growth opportunities  

Guy Addenbrooke and Tom Hamilton spoke about how IRI saw the broader food-to-go and sandwich landscape right now, based on their tracking of food-to-go sales in retail.  The results they shared highlighted an interesting dynamic. A challenging broader food market landscape, variable weather conditions and an increasing level of competition from non-retailers are all contributory factors to a market that is only showing limited growth right now. While sandwiches have held their own, packed salads sales have been declining year-on-year. An important channel shift is however underway, with convenience performing much better than supermarkets across the range of food-to-go products that IRI tracks. 

Vegan is the current buzz, but it’s easy to overestimate its sales impact

Guy and Tom spoke of how, despite the huge media and in-store focus on vegan and plant-based options, overall its sales participation is limited, at just 1% of total sales. So while a host of activity around Veganuary has captured the column inches and headlines in early 2020, it's one of just a number of opportunities for growth out there, and there are many non-vegan growth opportunities out there as well. They then spoke about the nutritional metrics they are developing, and adding into their sales tracking. They see this as becoming increasingly important over the years ahead, and will look to develop this further, as the nutritional debate continues and develops. 

Greencore: A fast changing food-to-go market 

Robert Potts from Greencore then outlined how Greencore is forging new opportunities for growth in the food-to-go market. As well as outlining how insight from a variety of sources underpins the Greencore way, Robert also spoke about the changing nature of the market. 

In fact, Robert described a rapidly changing marketplace, in which future opportunities for growth are likely to be very different from those in the past. Aligned with this, it requires a very different way of thinking and approach to take advantage of a shifting market and changing consumer, where a wider range of product and solutions will play a role in targeting consumers across a wider range of formats, channels and occasions. 

As a route to success, he outlined the importance of having a clear vision and growth plan for your customers, backed up by consumer and category insight and an understanding of the shopper journey.

New formats will feed into this changing opportunity 

Our Director of Member Services Gavin Rothwell also took the opportunity to share some of the global formats he’s seen that could shape the future of food-to-go. He called out examples of operators driving the future focus of food-to-go, retail and foodservice, and spoke of the increasing format blurring in this space. He talked through how formats such as Fresh the Good Food Market and SPAR Merrion Row in Dublin, Jumbo Foodmarkt in the Netherlands and Fresh Atelier food-to-go format are creating compelling fresh focused food solutions to meet a variety of missions and needs states. As well as working with BSA, Gavin also runs food-to-go and retail safaris across Europe - he finished by speaking of how the food formats of the future will be very different from the formats of today, and calling out some of the ways in which those in the food-to-go market can position themselves to be prepared for this change. 

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