Getting it to go: 2010 Portability Study

Six operators share how they are seeing growth in their take-away business.

Grab and Go: 25% and Growing

Among foodservice facilities that offer portable, grab-and-go food options, one quarter of the total foodservice revenue is generated by such items, according to the 2010 Portability Study conducted by FoodService Director.

Our study surveyed more than 300 operators in schools, colleges, hospitals, long-term and senior care facilities and business locations, and 73% said they currently offer grab-and-go service. The percentage is highest in B&I (95%) and colleges (88%), while college operators reported the highest average percentage of total revenue (32%).

Most operators surveyed (52%) added that they expect the volume of takeout business to grow in the coming year. Seventy-two percent of college operators and 66% of hospital directors expect to see an increase in their grab-and-go revenue.

Customers’ busy lifestyles was the reason most often cited by operators as the reason for the expected increase, with 54% of respondents indicating that “customers have less time to spend in the dining area.” “Stated customer demand” and “increase in customer base” each were noted by 45% of operators, while 17% said “less seating capacity” and 11% cited “higher profits on prepackaged items due to labor savings.”

Conversely, only 5% said they expect to see a drop in grab-and-go business, with a decline in customer base or a decrease in demand as the reasons most often cited.

A wide range of items are sold in the grab-in-go format, with salads from the salad bar being the most popular.

Most operators (59%) said that grab-and-go service “saves labor in a way that boosts profitability, with 77% of college operators and 68% of school foodservice directors agreeing with that statement. Interestingly, 61% of B&I operators disagreed, possibly seeing the takeout option more as a customer convenience than a labor-saving device.

Also, operators by and large agree that point-of-sale merchandising trumps marketing tools in building grab-and-go sales. Only 21% of operators—with 3% of schools and 15% of hospitals being the lowest—use such items as promotions, coupons and discounts to attract customers, with most believing that dedicated take-away stations and improved merchandising displays and packaging materials will drive traffic.

Finally, biodegradable containers continue to rank among the less likely packaging option for grab-and-go service, with only 32% of operators offering such containers. Biodegradability is most often embraced by college (57%) and B&I (42%) operators.

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