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Suppliers seek alternative markets as out-of-home eating nosedives

With 40 per cent of food eaten out of the home in the UK, the Government’s decision to close pubs and restaurants will have a major impact on demand.

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Suppliers seek alternative markets as out-of-home eating nosedives

Sources have reported that some smaller independent meat wholesalers who previously supplied the catering sector have quickly shifted their supply into the major retailers as demand ebbed away.


There are several reports of large quantities of South American steak destined for the food service sector being minced once those orders disappeared, with major retailers being the destination for product which would usually be deemed out of spec.


Association of Independent Meat Suppliers spokesman Tony Goodger said: "Some members are now reporting that, while killing to and over capacity, their foodservice customers obviously pulled back on orders, [but] their supply chains into wholesalers supplying retailers and direct into retail outlets are flat out.


“That said, many of our catering butcher members are very agile businesses and have quickly moved into home delivery."


Figures from research company MCA Insight estimate that the UK eating and drinking out market in 2019 was worth £91 billion, with £66.5 billion of that spent in pubs, hotels and restaurants.


More than £20 billion is spent on ready to eat food such as sandwiches from shops as well in travel and leisure outlets. The contract catering sector was worth £4.4 billion.

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Defra figures show that the average person spent £45.31 on all food and drink in 2017/18, based on a long-running survey of 5,000 households.


Of that £27.54 was spent on household food and non-alcoholic drinks – 61 per cent of the total. The out-of-home expenditure was 7.9 per cent more than in 2014, while in-home spend was up just 2.1 per cent.


Using the Defra figures, 4.405 million tonnes of food products were eaten out of home in 2018.


Out of home meat sales were at 295,300 tonnes, with 228,500 tonnes of potatoes and potato products consumed along with 194,900 tonnes of fruit, vegetables and salad and 229,200 tonnes of sandwiches and bread.


At least 156 million litres of liquid milk is drunk out of the home, mainly in teas and coffees, with yogurt and ice cream sales at 31,000 tonnes.


Not all out-of-home sales will disappear.


Some smaller takeaways are still operating and supermarkets are still selling items such as sandwiches, although with fewer people going out to work demand will be down.

Estimated total out-of-home food consumption in tonnes in 2018














Ice cream & yogurt






Milk (million litres)



Source: Based on Defra Family Food data


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