Eating out

Fast food becomes the UK’s meal of choice

In Britain, fast food, for the first time ever, now makes up more than half of all the meals eaten outside of the home, reports The Telegraph. The recession, and the subsequent squeeze on disposable income, has encouraged millions of families to cut back on spending on luxuries, especially on meals in restaurants. This has encouraged many to trade down to cheaper meals, especially burgers and fried chicken.

According to NPD, the market research company which tracks consumer spending, 5.54 billion visits were made to a fast food chain in 2011, out of the 11bn meals eaten in total out of the home – be it at a work canteen, restaurant, pub or sandwich shop.

This means that 50.4pc of all means eaten out of the home are now at a so-called quick service restaurant, up from 47.3pc just two years ago. The term quick service restaurant is used by the industry to describe any outlet where the consumer queues to buy take-away food so this does include coffee shops.

Guy Fielding at NPD said: “It’s a lot about trading down. Because fast food has become so cheap, it has driven families in particular away from independent restaurants and pubs to the fast food chains.

“Families want to know what they are getting. And with the likes of McDonald’s or KFC they know it is a consistent experience and good value.”

In the last four years both the total number of meals eaten out of the home, and the money spent on dining out has fallen. The size of the dining out market has fallen from £50.8bn in the 12 months to September 2008 to £49.2bn in the 12 months to September 2011, said NPD.

These figures echo comments made by supermarket bosses, who have explained shoppers have bought higher numbers of premium ready meals as a substitute for going out for a meal.

Source: The Telegraph