Conscious Choices: Hospitality Industry Trends in the UK

Consumer choices shaping the eating out market

Consumers are making more mindful decisions around where to eat or drink out, how often to eat or drink out, and what to order when they do.

The cost of living crisis has undoubtedly driven this trend, but the ever-growing focus on improving personal health and protecting the planet we live on have also driven consumer consciousness.

But when it comes to mindful eating and drinking decisions, everybody has different priorities. So, our sub-trends show some of the key ways that consumers’ choices around food and drink are changing.

Cost Matters

Sustainable Choices

The Calorie Conundrum

Mindful Drinking

Cost Matters

83% of UK adults have less disposable income due to the cost of living crisis*****. Half of the UK say they’re now spending less on eating out than they did last year*. And younger adults, who are typically the most lucrative group to target in the out of home market, are the most likely to say this.

Consumers have become more price-led than they were last year with 72% now considering price a priority when choosing where to eat out at***. Deals and promotions, subscriptions, and in particular emphasising value for money, are all things we expect to see more of whilst operators aim to appeal to cost-conscious consumers.

conscious consumer trend

Sustainable Choices

Consumers are looking for options that they perceive to be better for the environment. 61% of fish eaters consider it important that the fish or seafood they eat out is sustainable, and more importantly 51% would pay more to know this.

Sustainability symbols on menus are an important driver of choice. 53% of UK adults are much more likely to order a dish with an “OF&G Organic” symbol on it, and 52% say the same about the “Green Palm” symbol.

So operators will benefit from highlighting any sustainably-sourced products and ingredients on menus.

sustainable choices trend

The Calorie Conundrum

The calorie labelling legislation has sparked divided opinions. 41% see it as a positive step to improving the nation’s health and 22% think it has negative implications. But whatever side of the fence they’re on, many consumers are changing their food choices as a result.

Half of consumers would change their meal choice if they perceived the calorie content to be too high*****. And here’s how…

  • 1 in 3 would choose a smaller portion*****
  • 1 in 3 would order fewer courses*****
  • 3 in 10 would choose a lower calorie version of the same dish if available
  • Just under 1 in 4 would share the dish with someone else*****

Discover the latest health food trends 2024.

calorie choices trend

Mindful Drinking

The alcohol moderation trend continues, driven largely by a focus on health. And so much choice in the out of home market, thanks to new brands and innovation, means consumers can easily go out and enjoy themselves without having to drink.

13% of 18-34 year olds say they typically drink non-alcoholic alternatives when they go out****.

But despite younger adults leading this trend, engagement with non-alcoholic alternatives amongst 18-55 year olds has more than doubled since August 2020*****, discover our drink trends.

mindful drinking trend

Will rising costs affect consumer behaviour in the hospitality industry?

The cost of living crisis is undoubtedly having an impact on consumers’ out of home behaviours. Many people are going out less often and around half of UK consumers say they’re now spending less on eating out than they did last year*. Unsurprisingly, consumers are more price-led when choosing venues compared to last year – indicating they’re becoming more cost conscious.

The eating out market is set to be a challenging landscape to navigate in 2023, and operators will need to look for ways to emphasise value for money. However, whether it’s through the love of food, the love of food, a desire to socialise or even just convenience, eating out is still an integral part of many of our lives.

In fact, 45% of consumers consider eating out a “fundamental activity” in their lives*****. And around 2 in 3 UK adults (64%) said despite the cost of living crisis, they would find it difficult to stop eating and drinking out*****. And 7 in 10 people still consider eating and drinking out the treat they most look forward to*****.

How might consumer behaviour towards sustainability affect the catering industry?

Consumers are becoming more and more aware of their impact on the environment, and how their food and drink choices influence this.

Ethically sourced ingredients have become a priority for both consumers and operators, with 51% of fish eaters saying they’d pay more to know the fish or seafood they ordered when eating out was sustainable*. Accreditation symbols are important indicators, with 53% of UK adults saying they’re much more likely to order a dish if it had an “OF&G Organic” symbol on it, and 52% said the same about “Green Palm”.

Will non-alcoholic alternatives be popular?

The alcohol moderation trend is continuing to grow, meaning low and no- alternatives are a key opportunity for operators to maximise revenue with their drinks menus. Offering interesting and exciting alternatives will help elevate the out of home experience for those not drinking, and this category is particularly important with the younger generation. 13% of under 35s typically opt for non-alcoholic alternatives when they go out!****

We expect 0% beers and ciders to be particularly popular with consumers over the year ahead.

More Food and Drink Trends 2024



*Bidfood and CGA 2023 Trends consumer survey, sample size 2,003 (UK adults)

**CGA Proprietary Data, sample size 2,003 (UK adults)

***Lumina Intelligence Eating Out Market Report June 2022

**** CGA BrandTrack, April 2022, sample size 5,022

*****CGA by NielsenIQ Cost of Living Consumer Pulse (1,000 GB&I consumers) August 2022

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