Independent convenience retailers are falling behind in the growing lunch-to-go market by relying too heavily on sandwiches, according to new figures from IRI.

Lunch to go presented convenience retailers with a £36m boost last year, with sandwiches, sushi, salads and snacks growing by 6.6% in high street multiples. 

But independent convenience retailers showed a 0.4% decline in sales to £96m. 

Retailers that are more dependent on selling sandwiches are showing much slower growth in the category.

Although sales of sandwiches grew by 3.8% to £1.4bn, higher-priced items, such as baguettes, salads and sushi, are growing faster.  Ready-to-eat salads grew by 5.1% to £800m and sushi grew by 12%.

Martin Wood, head of strategic retail insight at IRI, said meal deals were encouraging people to buy breakfast and lunch on the way to work.

“There is a huge opportunity for independent convenience retailers to work with their wholesale and buying group partner to identify a broader range of options,” he added.  

Single-serve soft drinks rose by 3.3% to more than £3bn, while single-serve salted snacks grew by 0.4%.