How to leverage on-the-go innovation

Friday, 29 October, 2021

The on-the-go product category primarily delivers convenience but changing consumer values and demands are causing products to become more specialised in the type of convenience they offer. This article looks at how and why these products are evolving and explores how your foodservice business can follow suit with grab-and-go meals.

Tired sportsman sitting on stairs outdoors and eating energy bar

What consumer values drive innovation in on-the-go products?


Portion control

Think about your favourite on-the-go food and drinks; what makes them appealing?

You probably thought of their convenient size and features like resealable lids, making them easy to take anywhere. However, on-the-go foods and drinks can provide other convenience benefits.

For example, on-the-go versions of products provide an easy way to exercise portion control. Since one in three Australians was worried about gaining weight during the pandemic, portion control is something that’s going to resonate with consumers as they return to life outside of lockdown.

Salad in small plastic cup

Shortcut to breakfast

Breakfast is another area where on-the-go food and drinks provide a convenient option. Have you ever skipped breakfast because you’re low on time? You’re not alone - IGH’s 2019 national survey revealed that almost half of all those surveyed admitted to skipping breakfast during the week, despite one third agreeing that breakfast was an important meal.

On-the-go options that can claim to be rich in healthy breakfast nutrients like fibre, calcium, and iron are an excellent alternative for time-poor professionals or anyone else who wants a shortcut through the most important meal of the day.

Our Uncle Tobys cereal range has several single-serve potion control products that provide a convenient breakfast or snack option. The range includes 65-gram varieties of Uncle Tobys Breakfast Bakes, single-serve Uncle Tobys Natural Style Muesli packs, and Uncle Tobys Quick Oats Cups which only require you to add hot water and go.

Find more info on pages 58-59 of the Nestlé professional product catalogue.

Businessperson preparing breakfast while looking at watch

Functional diet boosters

According to Introduction to Functional Foods and Ingredients by PIRSA, “Functional foods and beverages are those that provide an extra health benefit to the consumer beyond basic nutrition.”

With an increasing demand for functional foods and beverages, more on-the-go products are being marketed to support gut wellness, boost immunity, and even enhance cognitive performance for students and professionals.

Spread of nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and fish


Emotional wellbeing

Studies on the mental health impact of the pandemic have increased awareness about the importance of caring for and nurturing emotional wellbeing. This has caused an increased focus on snacks with functional ingredients that claim to support relaxation.

See this article from Blackmores that explains the kinds of snacks that may help reduce stress.

Person relaxing on couch with hot drink

Hygiene and safety

Consumers are also increasingly concerned with hygiene and safety when it comes to food and drink products. In a study conducted by Lightspeed/Mintel, almost 75% of respondents said they prefer to buy products with packaging that will protect the contents from contamination.

Individually wrapped on-the-go products alleviate concern for consumers who are worried about tampering or accidental contamination. The increased emphasis on hygiene has even led to some brands innovating with anti-bacterial labelling - that’s right, the product’s label disinfects your hands when you hold it!

Salad in opened plastic container

At Nestlé, our single-serve MILO sachets and single-serve coffee blend sachets are examples of options perfect for consumers concerned with hygiene and safety, as well as portion control.

MILO Single Serve Sachet

MILO Single Serve Sachet 20g x 100

NESCAFÉ Foodservice Blend Sachets

NESCAFÉ Foodservice Blend Sachets 1.7g x 1000

NESTLÉ Complete Mix Hot Chocolate Soft Pack

NESTLÉ Complete Mix Hot Chocolate Soft Pack 750g x 12

Browse the Nestlé professional product catalogue for the full range of single-serve drinks.


Follow these trends with smart grab-and-go options

Although the trends above are being observed in the on-the-go product category, there’s no reason you can’t follow them with your businesses’ offering and cater to the changing needs of your customers.

The growth of grab-and-go meals gives your business an entryway to serving convenient options that address portion control, functional ingredients, food safety, and more.

For example, you could provide a nutrient-dense breakfast option that targets busy workers around your vicinity or create a lighter version of one of your popular menu items for those who are interested in portion control. Take inspiration from Oliver’s grab ‘n go menu that offers a diverse range of takeaway friendly options.

Plastic lid being secured over grab and go food container


Prioritise convenience throughout your business

Growth and innovation in the on-the-go category highlight the importance of convenience for consumers. This focus on convenience goes beyond just access to quick takeaway meals. Consumers are looking for options that make it easier for them to prioritise their health and support their lifestyle, including concerns over hygiene and safety.

Going forward, think about what you could change in your business to make things easier for your customers, like adopting a simpler menu design or using emerging foodservice technologies to deliver more efficient service.

Barista serving customer at point of sale

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