Currently 50 per cent of the 150 people interviewed for the report buy street food at least once a week, while one in five buy it two to three times a week, most of them at lunch time (81 per cent).
Two thirds (64 per cent) of people spend £5 or over on street food - more than the average lunch time food spend - yet 61 per cent feel they spend less than normal when buying it. According to Santa Maria, this is due to the fact that people don’t rate their street food experience on the same scale as a sandwich, but more on the level of a restaurant meal on which they would usually spend more money.
“There has been a value cloak on people’s shoulders since 2008. Now the economy is getting better, but we still don’t have more money in our pockets, so people are willing to spend more but for great value, and that is what street food is perceived as,” said Simon Stenning, strategy director at Allegra Foodservice.
Variety, freshness and authenticity
Variety of choice, tastes and flavours, as well as freshness of locally sourced ingredients, were cited as the main reasons why people buy street food, but experts speaking at the launch of the report today in London said the social aspect of that type of eating is a major factor.
“Our lives have become very internal and when we do break away from our laptops, phones and tablets we want an authentic community experience - that’s what street food can give us,” said Richard Johnson, founder of British Street Food and the Street Food Awards.
Mexican, Chinese and Thai cuisines came on top of consumers’ favourite street foods, followed by Indian, British, Italian and Greek. When asked about their favourite dishes, 22 per cent answered wraps, burrito or sandwiches, 13 per cent said they preferred rice dishes or noodle pots and 13 per cent chose burgers.
The crossover between restaurants and street food stalls was also discussed at the event, with mainstream operators taking inspiration from street food in their menus and concepts (Wahaca and Ed’s Easy Diner were cited as examples). On the other hand, it is not uncommon for street food traders to turn their successful business into a permanent venue (MeatLiquor, Homeslice, Pizza Pilgrims and Flat Iron for example).
“Although growing, street food is starting from a very tiny base, but what’s interesting is that it’s still having a tremendous influence on the eating out market,” added Stenning.
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