Food to go sales are set to outstrip those of tobacco with the former predicted to be worth £23.5bn by 2022, according to IGD.

This opportunity is set to be shared across food service and retail – but the growth of food to go in convenience, at 6.1%, is expected to be faster than in supermarkets and even QSRs (quick service restaurants) such as McDonalds, EAT and KFC. Only coffee specialists and food to go specialists will benefit more.

Meanwhile UK tobacco sales were estimated to be £19.3bn in 2015, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Centre.

The prediction comes after the Scottish government announced a £250,000 fund for independent convenience retailers to help them develop a hot food offering. Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing made the announcement at the Scottish Grocers Federation annual conference last week, with the scheme scheduled to be up and running early next year.

Retailers will be able to apply for up to half of the money they need to put in a food to go option in their stores.

Zahid Ula, of Day-Today in Kelty, said: “We are starting to sell a lot more food to go as more customers are asking for it and our cigarette sales are definitely falling. Food to go is going to be our main focus for the next few months.”

Meanwhile, Eddie Poole, of Poole’s Supervalu of Moira in County Down, said food to go has been his fastest-growing category for the past few years.

“I now have four full-time staff working on food to go from 6am. Rustlers burgers and sandwiches are very popular and we also sell full dinners and curries in the evening,” he said.