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The future of European food service

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Food service LINPAC

Approximately 13% of all eating occasions now take place ‘out-of-home’ according to Canadean Intelligence Centre, with over a quarter of global consumers eating out at least once a week.

Hectic lifestyles mean that meal planning takes place either less frequently or not at all in households. Consumers are choosing to eat out in order to fit in quick meal or snack around their daily activities. In fact, nowadays 7% of consumers globally eat out-of-home 2-3 times per day.

The global food service market is forecast to be worth $3 trillion by 2020, representing 20% of total food and beverage manufacturer revenues.

This growth is largely stemming from how well the ease and convenience of eating out fits in with the changing lifestyles and needs of consumers.

According to Gira Food Service, the out-of-home market can be divided into six key sectors:

  • Social food service sector including business and industry, education and healthcare
  • The most well-known commercial food service sector including table service, self-service and quick service restaurants and hotels
  • Bars and pubs sector
  • Night life sector which includes modern bars, casinos and discos
  • Vending sector
  • Other distribution channels such as bakeries, take-away stands and convenience stores 

Each segment is characterised in a different way and attracts consumers with diverse food consumption behaviours. 

LINPAC has identified key emerging trends which it sees shaping the food service market in coming years.

In recent times global dining has experienced many changes that have positively affected the food service industry. The premiumisation trend is a good example of this. Fast-food chains are taking a share of the premium market by making food offerings appealing through the development of affordable high quality solutions. This trend can be expected to continue across developed markets, according to Euromonitor, as consumers search for better value whilst not compromising on quality.

Across Europe, the boundaries between retail and food service are blurring more than ever according to IGD Retail Analysis. New combinations and solutions are being offered to consumers to better meet ever changing shopper missions. New category mergers and innovations, such as built-in cookery schools, wine bars in higher end retail chains and integrated coffee shops, all smooth the shopping experience for the consumer and in turn encourage them to spend more time in store.

The health trend has also made its way into food service.  A market once dominated by either fast food or luxury indulgence is now increasing the importance of “healthier” options, such as lighter variations, dishes containing superfoods or non-alcoholic drinks. This trend presents many opportunities for the food service market, especially considering the growing popularity of vegan, vegetarian and free-from foods.

The French “aperitif” or Italian “aperitivo” tradition is beginning to expand further afield to reach consumers in other countries. The desire to tap into this trend has come from evolving social and personal needs of consumers, especially professionals. According to Gira Food Service, 90% of French people currently go out for an “aperitif” at lunchtime or, more commonly, after work. This traditional drink is usually paired with a variation of food accompaniments, of which much innovation can be expected.

Another advancement within the food service industry is the rise of the vending machine, traditionally used exclusively for distributing beverages and snack products such as crisps and chocolate bars. France in particular has seen the introduction of innovative vending machines serving ready to eat hot food and even refrigerated meat or produce. This growth taps into the aforementioned convenience trend; the appeal coming from the ability to access food products 24 hours a day to fit into the life of any consumer.

The older consumer is also helping to boost the growth of the food service market, as they tend to frequent cafes, restaurants and hotels more than other consumer groups. According to Kantar World Panel, senior consumers in Spain account for more than 50% of out-of-home dining thanks to the increase in the HORECA (hotel, restaurants and catering) market. 

The food service market offers many opportunities for food and packaging manufacturers, retailers and most importantly consumers. We look forward to seeing what the market will bring in the next 10 years and we predict some significant changes.

For more information on the Food Service packaging range LINPAC has to offer including fast food packaging, tableware and catering solutions, please visit

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