The roadside catering sector is stagnating and losing value, a new report from research firm Mintel has revealed.
Mintel found that while 85% of consumers had used motorway services in the last three years, with the market estimated to be worth £540m in 2007 up 12% since 2003, the real picture is not as rosy.
Although Mintel expects continued growth in the sector, when the effects of inflation on the catering market are taken into account, the roadside sector is actually declining by value in real terms, with a fall of 6% in market value forecast for 2008-13.
The report suggests consumer belt-tightening caused by the current economic slowdown and increased competition from petrol forecourt retailers, 95% of which now have some form of retailing on site, are two major contributors to the decline.
Motorists' enduring bad perception of the quality of roadside services and increasing time pressures on their journeys are also contributory, claimed the report.
However, the increase in branded outlets at roadside operations has helped combat some of this negativity with Moto sites that include the M&S Simply Food store seeing uplift in on-site sales of 14%.
The report also acknowledged a move by roadside caterers to meet increasing consumer demand for healthy, good quality food, with outlets now offering healthier menu options as well as premium-quality lines.
By Rosie Birkett
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