The rise and rise of premium fast food, and what it means for UK caterers

June 29, 2016 11:41 am
Premium fast food

For foodservice and catering companies, premium fast food is on the up, says Food Manufacture magazine. Consumers are after more luxurious choices: Smart Group stated in late 2015 that their clients were looking for “imagination, experience and perfection – whatever the budget.” Caterers Hickory have noticed a surge in “sociable eating” through sharing platters – a trend recognised by others and praised for creating an informal and relaxed eating environment.

On restaurant tables, supermarket shelves and caterers’ menus, international street food is being embraced across the UK food industry.

High street trends

Today, premium fast food is taking up more and more of the UK high street. Chips are increasingly offered with a variety of toppings; the number of street food vendors is growing, and more restaurants are popping up that serve one dish only.

It’s not just trends from the US, where the street food movement is strong, that are taking over our high streets: upmarket Asian fast food is also on the menu for many. We’re seeing massive growth for high street Asian food brands including Chinese chain Hotcha, who plan to open 100+ stores over the next five years; Japanese-inspired Wagamama, which announced a 10% growth in sales in 2015; and Vietnamese restaurant group Pho, who received £8m of investment from NatWest in 2015.

Premium fast food chains are on the rise too. In the gourmet burger arena, the likes of Byron, Five Guys, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and more are eating into the market share of their established competitors. As a result of this added competition, the old favourites are making changes to their offerings: think table service and touch screens in McDonalds, new menu offerings and sampling tours from Pizza Express, a new globally-inspired menu at Yates and more.  

Supermarket shifts

This shift to premium and Asian fast food shows that consumers’ tastes are changing across the board. As a result, it’s not just in restaurants and at street food stalls where these trends are coming into play. Supermarket shelves are also now seeing an increase in premium fast food: you’ll find Persian-spiced chicken burgers at Waitrose, South American kebabs at M&S, and, of course, our own premium Asian snack foods at Iceland.

With premium fast food proving popular on supermarket shelves and in restaurants, it’s no wonder that caterers are also being asked to tap into this trend.

The implication for UK caterers

The shift to premium fast food is certainly being reflected in the menus that caterers offer. In the world of weddings, for example, we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of happy couples choosing street food trucks to feed their guests: they’re fun, exciting and informal, and have massive appeal. If caterers want to compete with this trend, they need to offer menus to match.

Caterers Goose and Berry say that informality is key for their clients, while street food, fairground food and sharing platters are among the trends cited by Homemade. The same is true when it comes to corporate catering, where The Caterers Ltd, for example, include both gourmet fast food options (mini pizzas, mini steak sandwiches) and Asian-inspired bites (Asian crab tarts, cucumber filled with Thai beef salad) on their canapé menu. Canapé Box do the same: take a look at their menu and you’ll find a wealth of on-trend choices including Masala chicken, duck pancakes, deconstructed mini burgers and miniature portions of fish and chips.

It’s clear that premium fast food – including Asian options – is on the rise: a trend that’s being embraced by supermarkets, high street restaurant chains and catering companies alike. We’re certainly excited about the rise of upmarket sharing food, as the UK catering industry follows in the US’ footsteps to embrace a trend that focuses both on quality and consumer enjoyment.

To find out more about our range of high-quality Asian snack foods, get in touch.

Image via Unsplash.

About Emily Knight

Emily Knight is a writer and marketer based in Bristol. A Cambridge University Linguistics graduate, she runs Bristol Bites – an online guide to Bristol’s food and drink scene – in addition to various freelance writing and marketing projects.

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