If you’re a fan of hot food on the go, you’re not alone – more of us each year are grabbing lunch from a hot food display counter whether it’s in a supermarket, a specialist retailer or a mobile unit like a car or van.
According to the MCA/HIM Food To Go Market Report 2020, food to go will be worth £23.5 billion in 2023, up by £1.8 billion or an annual rate of 2.7%.
The FTG market now accounts for nearly a quarter of all spend on eating out, and a quarter of that is spent in supermarkets and convenience stores.
It’s worth noting that the total market includes both chilled and hot food on the go, so if you tend to grab lunch from a chilled food display counter, you’re also part of this trend.
Catering packaging is following suit, ensuring that food items of different shapes and sizes, as well as varying levels of fragility, can be displayed effectively on commercial hot plates and chillers.
This is no simple task. Catering packaging for hot and chilled food alike must protect the contents, advertise them appealingly to customers, and offer eco-friendly disposal options.
At the same time, it’s important that catering packaging for hot food on the go is also robust enough to handle direct contact with commercial hot plates or with ambient heated air.
Working together, the food packaging and food merchandising industries are coming up with solutions that meet the emerging demands.
For example, many hot holds do not require items to be packaged at all, allowing them to be displayed openly until a customer makes their choice.
At that point, an employee can place the food item into a suitable bag or other container, allowing it to be taken off the premises conveniently by the buyer.
The future is uncertain – catering packaging may move more towards recycled and recyclable materials, or it may move away from pre-packaged hot food on the go completely.
Instead, we may see a future where the hot food display counter in your local convenience store or supermarket contains unwrapped items, while customers bring their own reusable container of choice to eliminate packaging waste completely from the food to go process.