Manufacturing Hot Topics - Food to Go Sector

13 July 2018

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Announcer: You're listening to Manufacturing Ignition Hot Topics, bringing you right up to date on the latest trends and discussions within UK manufacturing. Sponsored by Bonfire Recruitment, helping manufacturing leaders across the UK to attract the best talent for their manufacturing company. Ignite your business or career today by visiting Here's your hosts, Terry Malin and Scott Buchanan.


Terry Mallin: So the hot topic, as I said at the start of the podcast, was discussing the food-to-go sector, and how this is a multi-million pound booming industry that's only growing further. And then we're talking about food-to-go, but not talking about fast foods. We are talking about food to go, which could be packaged vegetables, it could be cereal bars, sandwiches, wraps, chips, salads. All of these are on the rise, as we all know. This is due to obviously developing a taste for faster, healthier foods. And Scott was looking at - I love stats. I was looking at stats in the market in the UK for the food-to-go industry, 17.4 billion. Yeah, yeah, with the lik ofe Greggs, Subway, Vet's, even your major supermarkets as well. You walk in the aisles and you'll see the package vegetables. You stick them in a pot and you boil them. Job done.



Scott Buchanan: Yep.


Terry Mallin: And then spiralized courgettes. You've got your package sandwiches. You've got all your healthy. I mean I've actually been buying some of the pre-made meals that are actually healthy options and is branded healthy. So you got a lot of corn and what we need and whatever else, but it's all proper. It's really nice.

Terry Mallin: So, I know you've got a background in Greggs, Scott.


Scott Buchanan: I was hoping you weren't going to mention that, but yes, my latest or my last financial investment I guess was for Greggs and then, this was back many years ago. And it was the time before the VAT was getting talked about, and was part of the organization.

Scott Buchanan: This is actually relevant to what we're discussing, because it's allowed companies to actually grow. There was debate around whether, I'm going to say, the likes of the pastries and sort have actually been attributed to the same VAT level. As others said, when it was getting discussed, that I had probably bought the shares the day before. And the share price upped. So we failed significantly.

Scott Buchanan: I must say now though, that was abolished, I must have sold my shares in the meantime, and I think the share prices have all gone back up, and most of the companies have as well. That's called sod's law. I think that sector and the companies that have gotten established and market share in it, I think your biggest challenge is actually innovating a new product to come in there, because others are doing it. So the likes of, you touched on there, about healthier foods. So I wonder what the ratios are on an individual looking for a steak pie or a sausage roll, maybe. There she's looking for, I don't know, a healthy sandwich or some.


Terry Mallin: And you've got all that sort of stuff - beet roots, and whatever else. And I know, Scott, interestingly, obviously, we are kinda focusing on the businesses selling the food products and producing the food products, but also the type of business that are winning with us as well is the companies that make the napkins, the forks, the general packaging for that. If there's an increase in the products, there's got to be an increase in all this as well.


Scott Buchanan: I'd never thought of that, actually, the supply chain of packaging, the company that makes the plastic forks and everything that's thrown in there. And I bet, in terms of actually differentiating themselves, and maybe tying in with the companies' values, as well, they're probably spend, I'll bet, more money on making things look the part as well. So it must be quite a scalable industry. How much do you reckon of your work in weeks, shall we say, that you'd actually - how many meals, say Monday through Friday, it'd be five lunches then, do you reckon, you would probably just grab something out of the food-to-go shop?


Terry Mallin: Most days, yeah, 100%. But I think, all our lifestyles have changed as well. Shorter lunch breaks - we don't even call it lunch break, we just have lunch when we have lunch. We'll all get busy. And as there's more and more demand for convenience food - I mean, the last thing you want to do at night. And that's my view, is actually to stop cooking up my meal. And as for - look at how fresh and stuff at that, who do The Box. They leave it at your door, but actually you can have five meals a week delivered to your door, with all your ingredients and all you need. Just throw it in a frying pan and a pot, and it's job done. It's cooked in five minutes. And that's what that...

Terry Mallin: And Scott, another stat for you - one out of three people admit to leaving the house to purchase food-to-go, to then eat it back at the house. I've done it myself. I'll put my hands up, I've done that this afternoon, with Subway. So I can see that stat. And probably being cautious as well.



Scott Buchanan: I can relate to that, although I'm probably just too tight, and that's where the changes are happening. Because, in the cost of buying some fresh chicken or the actual cost of making your own meal, and the cost of the electricity and gas to bill, versus actually just grabbing whatever you want and enjoying it, and it's probably a better quality than I could ever make.

Scott Buchanan: Did you notice, Terry, that there's companies popping up now, that actually do - so you've got the traditional pizza companies, and the fast food type companies, doing the delivery as well. But actually there's the ones investing in - because the focus on people going to gyms and the healthier lifestyles, but actually they can deliver things. That way, you could - do you know, there's actually companies, I know there's a good bit in Glasgow, that have got their own initiatives, and getting healthy products, which actually tie in with the lifestyle changes as well?


Terry Mallin: 100%. I've seen that promoted on social medias, and whatever else. Prepared meals, you just fire on the microwave, and it's job done. You've got kale, and chicken, and whatever you have. So that sort. People want more healthier foods. They're clearly cautious of the calories, and the ingredients in foods as well. And supermarkets are clearly getting involved as well, with what everybody says they've been buying over the past couple of weeks, and keeping them in the fridge. And that market, Scott, is forecasted to go to 23 billion in the next five years. So that's an 90% value in the next five years, which will be 33.3% or so, mostly.


Scott Buchanan: And actually, I wonder what that means from looking what, quote unquote, we tend to do. But I can imagine, if any business or sector that's grown by that label, the talent acquisition challenge, do you know that way? It'd be interesting to see how that pans out. And I guess, maybe more so from the automation piece as well. Because, there's probably a lot of up scaling, only to happen to whoever's first to the hat.


Terry Mallin: And possibly, there is a con in the food waste, that's going to come off the back of that. That's a hard challenge, that would come up. But then, a great opportunity for existing businesses or new businesses to really dig a foothold within the market and establish themselves.


Scott Buchanan: By the same piece, we should probably look at, or maybe in a future podcast, Terry - I think that's when it's cross-sector, isn't it, and it's absolutely a hot topic at the moment, especially manufacturing, where they can make a thousand and one different things, or stuff that people don't want, effectively. So we may want to look at it going forward.


Terry Mallin: Yeah, OK, that sounds good.


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