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Grab and growth: post-pandemic success for grab-and-go sector

By William Blackett | Executive Vice President, Consumer



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October 5, 2022 | 5 min read

Savanta has summarized the UK’s top 100 most loved eating-out brands, revealing which brands UK consumers connect with the most. Drawing on findings from the report, Will Blackett of Savanta explores post-pandemic growth in the grab-and-go sector.

McDonald's takeaway bag

Rising prices are inevitable. So, what else can brands do to ensure customer loyalty? / Erik Mclean via Unsplash

According to Savanta’s Most Loved Eating Out Brands report, grab-and-go is in a good place, with no shortage of love for major British brands like Greggs and Costa. These two UK icons have consolidated their positions in the top five, remaining 2nd and 4th respectively since last year.

The grab-and-go market is forecast to grow 32% this year to £21.3bn, surpassing its pre-pandemic value. Factors behind the impressive rise include a full hospitality reopening, office returns (to some extent), tourism, and relatively low prices across the category.

Starbucks rumored to break up with UK business

New to Savanta’s Top 100 League Table this year is quick service drinks brand Joe & The Juice, debuting at #35. Otherwise, food features more heavily than drinks on the list. Tortilla, the UK’s largest fast-casual Mexican food brand, is up two places year-on-year at 38th, while lunchtime sushi favourites Wasabi and Itsu came 47th and 51st respectively.

However, with growth comes hungrier competition. It has been widely rumored that Starbucks - slipping out of our Top 10 this year, falling three places to 13th – is now considering selling its UK business. The US coffeehouse chain has claimed its footfall at city sites is seeing a slower recovery post-pandemic than at its suburban and retail park locations.

This suggests that for other brands, looking to capitalize on grab-and-go growth, one of the keys to success will be re-evaluating convenience. Consumers needing to eat or drink on-the-move want to get their food quickly and easily. The recent rise of hybrid working may mean brands need a more location-agnostic and less city-centric approach, to keep providing customers with their quick fixes.

‘Costa living’ crisis

In 2022 though, if convenience is key, then cost is king. Recently, some publications have unfairly rebranded the cost of living crisis as the ‘Costa living’ crisis following the coffee brand’s small price rises.

In fact, many brands – including Greggs and this year’s overall Most Loved Eating Out Brand McDonald’s – have all had to raise their prices slightly too. In the current climate, rising costs are sadly inevitable, and the eating out sector is far from the only one being affected.

So, in these tough times, eating out brands can preserve and perhaps even grow relationships with customers by rewarding their commitment. That could be through new carefully crafted loyalty schemes, promotions, or other free value-add services.

To fuel grab-and-go growth in the UK, consumers will need to feel that they’re not just getting filling food and delicious drinks, but rewarded for their brand love too.

Download Savanta’s report for the full list of The UK's Top 100 Most Loved Eating Out Brands, as well as insights on the future of the sector and how brands can stay relevant in the coming years.

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