Snacks are making up an increasingly important part of food sales, as dinner sales fall.
That's one of the conclusions foodservice market research firm Horizons has drawn from new figures it has compiled looking at food sales divided up into different day parts.
Horizons managing director Peter Backman said snacks now represented a significant opportunity for the sector.
Snacks make up 22% of the £32.8b of food sales in the foodservice sector in 2012, up 4.4% on the year before. Meanwhile breakfast represented 9%, up 4.4% on 12 months ago. Lunch was also up slightly, by 0.6%, to 45% of sales.
By contrast, dinner sales have suffered, down 2.1% to 37% of overall food sales, which Backman said was as a result of more people agreeing to meet over lunch rather than dinner, and a more casual, faster approach to eating out.
"Snacks is an area of the day which is opening up hugely, along with breakfasts," Backman said. "We reckon both will show substantial growth over the next two years. Lunch is also looking up partly as a response to people going out at lunchtime.
"All in all, one response from operators to tough market conditions has been to modify the day part opportunities and to open those up."
Meanwhile, Backman tipped casual dining, coffee businesses, pub/restaurants and managed food-led pubs to be winners in 2013.
Loser are expected to be independent, leased and tenanted pubs, as well as caterers in the healthcare and education sectors.
Meanwhile, meal purchases in the staff catering sector are expected to fall 5.4% during 2013.
Backman said he expected the overall foodservice sector, which was worth £44.1b in 2012, to take until 2016 to return to its peak 2007 levels.