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Five ways to serve up drinks & food to go

Disposable incomes are being squeezed hard right now. Consumers are considering how they spend their money more closely, with 37% eating out less often because this. As a result, the out-of-home dining market is polarising between less frequent, occasion-led meals on which people are prepared to splurge and quick, grab-and-go occasions when convenience and value are king.

Convenience retailers are cashing in. Food-to-go missions have seen the greatest growth across the convenience channel with 14.9% of all store visits in 2022 being for this reason, up from 13% in the previous year. Retailers such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s are looking to lure increasingly cash-strapped consumers out of foodservice with meal deals offering a wider range of mains, snacks and soft drinks.

So how can foodservice fight back? In this five-point plan for operators looking to grow their share of Britain’s fast-moving food-to-go market, we explore the importance of offering both value and excitement, the trends shaping consumer behaviour and the pivotal role that soft drinks can play in perfecting food to go.

1. Perfect Food Pairing

Alcoholic drinks have long been marketed on their ability to complement different cuisines. Soft drinks offer similar opportunities that go far beyond the classic meal deal trinity of Pepsi Max, burger and fries. Foodservice operators can help build consumer value perceptions and loyalty while raising average spend by pairing different meals and snacks with suitable soft drinks.

For example, the tarter flavours of J20 Apple & Raspberry or Britvic Cranberry cut through the richness of US-style low & slow barbecue or fried chicken, while the delicate flavours of Aqua Libra seltzers pair perfectly with Mediterranean dishes. The subtle refreshment of Lipton Ice Tea is a great accompaniment to seafood or sushi and the fizz of Pepsi Max or 7Up cleanses the palate when served with rich curries.

2. Think Outside the Lunch Box

Paying attention to the drinks you link with dishes in meal deals can help elevate your diners’ experience and keep them coming back for more. It also pays to think outside the box when it comes to pairing soft drinks with food. After all, people don’t just eat and drink at breakfast, lunch and dinner; people want their thirst and hunger satisfied at other times of the day as well.

The Britvic portfolio is well-placed to help operators expand the deals they offer outside traditional mealtimes. Try pairing Plenish energy shots with bircher muesli pots or combining Purdey’s Natural Energy with healthy snacks to woo those on the hunt for healthy mid-morning snacks; combining pizza slices or savoury pastries with Pepsi Max or Tango mid-afternoon is paying off for other operators.

3. Cater for consumers on a health kick

Consumers have gone on a health kick since the pandemic. Indeed, health benefits are now more highly prized when it comes to food and drink than any other attribute: 45% of people say that added health benefits are most important to them when choosing what to eat or drink; the next most important consideration is the use of natural ingredients with 43% of the vote; low prices come third with 42%.

These days, how healthy people deem drinks to be depends on more than sugar-content. Functional ingredients that can boost energy levels, immunity, gut health or concentration are in growing demand. Try linking the Rockstar Energy and Purdey’s Natural Energy ranges – which contain drinks fortified with ingredients such as B vitamins, guarana and ginseng – to tap into this trend.

4. Offer Affordable Indulgence

People might be thinking about their health more when deciding what to eat or drink, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be indulged. Just look at Café Nero’s new Belgian Chocolate & Hazelnut and Espresso & Caramel Frappe Crème lines or the ongoing UK expansion of US fried chicken giant Popeye’s, with its range of Hand Spun Shakes. Offering indulgence at the right price is paramount.

The Mattieu Teisseire range of flavoured syrups helps foodservice operators offer their customers indulgence at an affordable price point. The line-up features no fewer than 96 flavours, allowing operators to create a huge range of drinks and elevate everything from hot chocolates and coffees to cocktails and mocktails from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

5. Change with the Seasons

Seasonal specials and limited-edition flavours play a key role in creating excitement and driving sales. Indeed, for consumers who belong to Generation Z (anyone born between 1997 and 2010), the release of new flavours is the single biggest influence on their soft drink purchase decisions. It’s therefore crucial to keep soft drinks ranges fresh with innovative new products.

Britvic has a rolling roster of exciting seasonal flavours – such as grape, cherry and spice-flavoured J20 Glitterberry for Christmas and J20 Pear & Guava Summer Shine – as well as a busy product development pipeline that’s produced drinks including Tango Paradise Punch and Rockstar Energy Refresh flavours Strawberry & Lime and Watermelon & Kiwi. 

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