Coffer Peach Business Tracker figures showed a 0.6% rise in eating and drinking out in the past 12 months.
Also, operators offering a takeaway service had benefited from customers' increased working and commuting times, leading to a 3.8% growth in sales, according to data from MCA’s Food To Go 2017 report.
The stats mirror the results of catering equipment firm Nisbets’ Pulse Survey, with 79% of the 800 food industry professionals polled claiming to have a slightly positive or very positive outlook for the coming year.
Impact of Brexit
However, more than half (52%) of those asked in the survey remained unsure of the impact of Brexit on their business, despite 65% already dealing with the increased costs of raw ingredients, brought on by a dip in the value of the pound.
More than a third (35%) said they would need to increase prices to cover costs, while 19% indicated they would source more from local suppliers and 14% would look to reduce wastage to counter increased costs.
Those businesses that adapt well to change in order to meet customer demand will be best equipped to ride the wave of Brexit
– Simon O’Mahony, Nisbets
Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents believed local would be a bigger trend for consumers in the future.
Despite a positive outlook on consumer behaviour and the ability to keep costs down, almost all 87% of those asked highlighted recruitment as a future challenge.
Hire untrained staff
In the past 12 months, 40% of those responding to the survey have had to hire untrained staff and put training in place.
A quarter have increased the working hours of current employees to mitigate issues caused by recruitment issues, while 17% have launched their own apprenticeship programmes to solve the problem.
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Nisbets marketing director Simon O’Mahony, said: “Those businesses that adapt well to change in order to meet customer demand will be best equipped to ride the wave of Brexit.
“Many of those who commented positively in the Nisbets’ Pulse Survey identified that they had reacted quickly to new food trends and healthier options which they felt would help to see them through the challenges that may lie ahead.”