By Robert Flavin, Strategic Planning Director at V360°.

Ireland leading the charge – Retailers across Europe are waking up to the opportunities that the relevant food-to-go offerings can deliver to their business, to meet the needs of our increasingly fluid lifestyles. IGD (The Institute of Grocery Distribution) calls out Ireland, and Dublin in particular, as best practise in developing a compelling food-to-go retail offering. What is particularly impressive, according to IGD, is how coffee is so effectively integrated into the retail offering across many convenience outlets.

In fact, coffee has become such an integral pillar of the evolving food-to-go sector that the iconic (soon to be biodegradable) take away coffee cup is now a symbol for the food-to-go sector.

Discerning coffee consumers – Clearly, we Irish are becoming more discerning in our coffee consumption as we embrace the third wave of coffee culture, eschewing traditional instant coffee for more premium freshly ground offerings. Euromonitor’s report on the Irish Coffee Industry (Feb 2018), highlighted the ‘increasing sophistication of the average Irish coffee consumer’ which has led to a significant shift towards more premium coffee choices.

To put this into perspective, a recent report from UCC Coffee Ireland forecasted that the Irish coffee market is set to grow by 7% over the next five years. The same report also revealed that a third of Irish coffee drinkers purchase coffee out of home at least once a day, rising to 40% in Dublin.

Best practise in action – Having taken part in IGD’s recent Dublin Retail Safari ‘Food-To-Go Fusion’, I can personally vouch for the strength of the offering currently available from leading food-to-go operators. Features which are seen as unique in many other markets – such as great bean to cup American coffee in-store as well as barista style Flat White and Decaf Mochas – are increasingly the norm here.

If the second age of coffee was driven by the large chains such as Costa and Starbucks, the engine driving the third age is a combination of the multitude of independent barista style coffee shops on one hand and the improved quality of offering from convenience stores on the other hand. The poster boy for the latter is Centra, Parnell Street, Dublin winner of the ‘Innovative Store of the Year’ at the IGD Awards 2017, against strong nominees from Germany, UK, Norway, Thailand and Australia.

Great retail is a combination of quality product, intuitive and inviting in-store layout and excellent customer service. Centra Parnell Street delivers on all of these. Great quality coffee is guaranteed from the Frank and Honest branded product via bean to cup dispense machine or expert barista service from their in-store café. An added bonus is a dedicated seating area, to watch the world go by, which delivers the crème on a great coffee experience.

So whether you want a great quality coffee to sip and savour, a simple pick me up to keep going or an opportunity to linger and share a moment with a friend, Centra Parnell Street has got you covered.