According to figures published by UB Food Service, UK consumers spend about £5b on snacking every year - that's a quarter of all food sales - and an increasing amount of this is spent in catering outlets such as caf‚s and sandwich bars.
With this in mind, Hotelympia 2004 will feature a section dedicated to "eating on the move", "dashboard dining" or "grab ‘n' go" - just some of the numerous descriptions used for the impulse food purchases and snacking that are an increasing trend among UKconsumers.
The Grab ‘n' Go section offers suppliers the chance to expand into the impulse and vending markets and will provide a forum for presentations, discussions and debates aimed at operators seeking to widen their food-on-the-move offer, say the organisers.
Exhibitors will be offered the chance to speak alongside operators on all that is new within the vending and impulse markets. The Grab ‘n' Go feature will be located centrally in the Food & Drink section of Hotelympia.
Jacob Nir, commercial manager at the Original Pretzel Co (stand S4950), explains why he feels such a feature is necessary: "Sales within the quick-service sector have grown steadily in recent years, especially within the sandwich market. It is very likely that sandwich sales this year will top two billion units, with an estimated £3.2b worth of sales. In such a major market it is no longer acceptable to produce a ‘me-too' product. Our pretzel rolls are a good example of how to offer consumers something different."
Mark Kingston, managing director of first-time exhibitors Food Now (stand S4951), agrees: "There is no doubt that the grab ‘n' go sector is growing and will continue to grow. People now want food on tap, and as long as the quality is good they will purchase."
Food Now will use Hotelympia to introduce its Pizza Now vending machine, a coin-operated machine that delivers hot pizza in rapid time.
Kingston says: "Our Pizza Now machine gives customers the opportunity to have a hot 12in pizza in just four minutes, and because the vending machine can be situated indoors or out, the service is always available. The machine is ideal for high-street locations, in car parks, forecourts, shops or leisure centres, canteens and institutions."
Food Now will be demonstrating the machine throughout the day.
UB Food Service (stand S4933) will also be showing its extensive range of impulse products, including crisps, snacks, cake bars and biscuits, within the Grab ‘n' Go section. Eoin Cannon at UB says: "Impulse snacking is a key sector for UB, accounting for 40% of our sales and growing annually. We have a number of product launches planned for 2004 in both sweet and savoury impulse snacks, which illustrates the importance of the sector in our plans."
Other companies already signed up to show their wares in the Grab ‘n' Go section include Ivory Beverages and the Food Brands Group. Ivory Beverages (stand S4841) has vastly expanded its portfolio of customers in the food service sector since its management buyout in 2001. The independent company supplies a range of branded vending equipment and products as well as offering an equipment overhaul service from its Exeter refurbishment centre. Coffee brands available through the company include Nescafé, Lavazza and Rombouts, plus its own-label offering, Café de Colombia, a 100% Columbian soluble coffee. Tetley, Twinings, PG Tips, Scottish Blend and an own-label tea are also available in vending formats, and drinking chocolate options include Galaxy, Nestlé and Suchard.
The company's equipment range includes such names as Crane Merchandising Systems, Nescafé-branded Bolero and the Stentofield range of push-button machines.
The Food Brands Group (stand S4951) will use Hotelympia to highlight its Rocket Fuel range of instant coffee, ground coffee, tea and soft drinks and to introduce the new self-heating Espresso Powershot - a device that lets you enjoy a hot Rocket Fuel any time, anywhere, in just 40 seconds.
Rocket Fuel's key ingredient is guarana, a herb from the Amazonian rainforest that has been used by forest dwellers for many centuries as a powerful stimulant. This combined with caffeine defines the Rocket Fuel brand.
Rocket Fuel is aimed primarily at fast-living 18- to 35-year-old consumers, making the Grab ‘n' Go section the ideal platform from which to spotlight the brand.
With so much investment in the food-on-the-move sector it is destined to grow rapidly in stature. However, many UK consumers still need convincing of the benefits of eating on the hoof. About one in five respondents to a recent Mintel survey said that they would never eat on the street. This attitude was especially prevalent among older consumers, with about a third of retired respondents feeling that it applied to them.
Grab ‘n' Go is just one more reason to visit Hotelympia 2004 at ExCeL (23-27 February). Hotelympia is the largest dedicated food service show in Europe, offering caterers in the quick-service sector the opportunity to see new products, meet new suppliers and get new ideas.
Research commissioned by UB Food Service reveals that eating on the hoof is an all-day pastime, but what people eat and the type of consumer doing the eating varies depending on the time of day.
Between 6am and 9am children aged six to 16, working males and young females are the key consumers driving sales of "grab ‘n' go" foods. Eating on the hoof first thing has been encouraged by a trend towards skipping breakfast, particularly prevalent among young males. Sandwiches, confectionery, crisps, snacks and biscuits are the main foods bought to fill the morning gap.
Between 9am and midday, it's children up to the age of five and men driving grab ‘n' go sales. Sandwiches, cakes, crisps, snacks and biscuits are the key product groups, with sandwiches and hand-held savouries showing the strongest growth. Snacks consumed at this time of day are most likely to be bought from a caf‚ or a forecourt site.
More than a third of all out-of-home snacks are consumed between noon and 2pm. Adults are the key consumers at this time, with sandwiches accounting for 41% of food sold. However, the noon-2pm snack is likely to be purchased from a baker or supermarket, revealing a potential market for high-street caterers to tap into.
Come the period between 2pm and 4pm and it's the under-sixes who once again become the key consumers, together with adults aged 65 and over. Confectionery is the key product bought at this time, with most of it eaten by children. Older consumers tend to opt for cakes, tarts, pastries or biscuits. Caf‚s, along with newsagents and forecourts, are the main vendors of snacks at this time of day.
Children travelling home from school are the market drivers between 4pm and 6pm, with confectionery accounting for one-third of all products consumed.
Food Brand Group 020 7978 5300
Food Now 01483 238808
Ivory Beverages 01422 254600
The Original Pretzel Company 01702 461116
UB Food Service 020 8234 5000