While it’s been a tough year for many, it seems that the packed lunch just isn’t cutting the mustard for Brits any more. Indeed, according to new research from Mintel, the number of consumers buying lunch to eat out of the home for an everyday occasion has risen to 76 per cent in 2017, up from 64 per cent in 2016. Additionally, the percentage buying lunch out of home for a leisure occasion has grown to 75 per cent, up from 68 per cent in 2016.

Not only are more Brits leaving their lunchboxes at home, but it appears they are doing so more often, as there has been growth in the frequency with which Brits shun their packed lunches. Two in five (39 per cent) UK consumers say they are buying lunch to eat out of the home for an everyday occasion once a week or more, up from 35 per cent in 2016. Meanwhile, 26 per cent are eating out for a leisure occasion once a week or more, compared to 22 per cent who said the same in 2016.

Indeed, more Brits are buying lunch out of the home despite a pinch in the population’s wallets over the past year and it seems that it could come down to the changing mood of the nation. Of those who buy lunch out of home for an everyday occasion, two in five (41 per cent) say they are influenced by their state of mind when deciding whether to buy lunch out of the home, for instance if they are tired or happy. What’s more, as many as four in five (79 per cent) Brits agree that ‘food can improve your mood’, rising to 83 per cent among women.

Helen Fricker, Senior Leisure Analyst at Mintel, said:

“The rise in the number of consumers choosing to eat out at lunch is due to a variety of reasons. The range of options for lunch on the high street has grown, which means those with dietary needs are far better catered to than in previous years. State of mind is also a key driver behind lunchtime food choice and the increased availability of healthy, mood-boosting and functional foods is tapping into this need.”

While it may seem that Brits have been encouraged to reclaim their lunch break, many are still resorting to lunch on the run. Two in five (41%) Brits who have bought lunch to eat out of home in the last month say they eat more on-the-go than sit-down meals, rising to half (50%) of those who are employed full-time. Indeed, a long lunch may now be a historic concept, as over half (54%) of employed Brits say that workday lunches are more functional than enjoyment based.

“The importance of taking regular breaks at work and making time for a proper lunch break is widely known to improve health and make workers more productive. Those that are simply grabbing something without thinking about what they are eating may be missing out on the positive effects food can have on mood, which in turn could mean reduced competency.” Helen adds.

Finally, as the saying goes, ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’, Mintel research reveals that Brits aren’t scrimping on price when it comes to their mid-day meal. Of those who buy lunch to eat out of the home, under a third (32 per cent) look for the cheapest priced lunch item for a Monday-Wednesday lunch option, while 31 per cent do so Thursday-Friday. And perhaps riding on the weekend high, only around one in five (22 per cent) look for the cheapest lunch option when buying lunch on a Saturday or Sunday.

Furthermore, for many Brits, particularly the younger generations, the traditional Sunday lunch may soon be replaced with avocado on toast. One in three (34 per cent) Brits say that brunch has replaced traditional weekend lunches, rising to almost half (48 per cent) of those aged 25-34 and 45 per cent of Londoners.

“Brunch is big business. It seems that diners cannot get enough of a weekend brunch and operators are only too happy to cater to this. Over the last few years there has been a huge rise in brunch availability and all types of foodservice outlets have entered into this space. The range on offer is ever expanding and the variations available continue to evolve.” Helen concludes.