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“Street food” becoming a greater threat to traditional foodservice outlets

15 November 2012

  • Two fifths of consumers have eaten street food at least once in the past three months
  • The convenience factor was rated highest among consumers

London, [15th November 2012] – New research conducted by Canadean Consumer shows that consumers are hitting the streets in search of meals and that this growth in popularity of street food presents a very real threat to traditional foodservice outlets because of their perceived convenience and the variety of novel cuisines available.

In the last few years, the quality of, and interest in, street food has continued to increase, making it one of the most important food trends in the UK today. Choice is growing and its delivery is evolving from food carts to more sophisticated mobile kitchens.

Of 2,000 consumers polled by Canadean Consumer, 1,796 were aware of street food. Among these, 64% agreed with the statement that it is a particularly “convenient” way to eat. Additionally, 59% of consumers also felt that street food provided an opportunity to experiment with a wider choice of cuisines – something that appeals to the increasingly sophisticated palettes of the population.

However, in terms of quality, it appears that the perception among consumers is that street food is in need of some improvement. Only 20% of respondents overall believed that the quality of street food was better than restaurant food. Yet, in London, where there is a higher concentration of street food available at present, 31% of respondents preferred the quality of street food over restaurant food. This trend is expected to migrate through to other parts of the UK, as their respective street food scenes evolve to match those of the capital.

The increasing interest in street food in the UK has created further competition for established foodservice businesses.  Firstly, start up costs and pitch fees are low, no rent and rates bills, which means the traders can provide restaurant quality food at takeaway prices. It is also lower risk as operators can easily change menu items at relatively low cost. In addition, street food reflects a change in the food culture in the UK, from the traditional starter-main course-dessert ritual to “bits of this and that”. Furthermore, with the population still feeling the effects of the recession, any cheaper alternatives with the added benefits of quality and choice will appeal to the majority.

Emma Herbert, Research Manager at Canadean Consumer states: “As the availability of street food nationwide increases, it is anticipated that standards will rise ever higher, and the current perceptions surrounding quality will improve. As a result, we can expect to see consumers migrate from the traditional to the novel, as the values of the two continue to cross over”.

“Street food” becoming a greater threat to traditional foodservice outlets

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