The typical British consumer ate on-the-go 372 times during 2004 but just 119 of these occasions were considered to be healthy, suggests Datamonitor.
But with the total number of on-the-go consumption occasions in the UK set to rise to 401 by 2009, food manufacturers should offer more than just the confectionery and savoury snacks that dominate on-the-go choices, says report author Daniel Bone, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor.
"Although health concerns are now similar in importance to both convenience and indulgence needs, numerous barriers exist to consuming healthily on-the-go. These range from the fact consumers find it difficult to locate healthy options in convenience outlets to the simple fact that healthier food and drinks are perceived to be too expensive," explained Bone.
Datamonitor claims that a survey carried out by the company in October 2004 reveals the consumer's increasing search for healthy products. It found that 83 per cent of Brits felt that it was 'important to improve health through diet'.
In addition 62 per cent also indicated they had actually taken active steps to improve health' in the 12 months previous.
This trend is likely being driven by growing obesity rates - there are over 28 million overweight or severely overweight adults in Britain, yet Brits are the biggest on-the-go consumers in Europe, says the market research firm.
In 2004 a typical British consumer ate on-the-go 372 times. This compares to an estimated 229 occasions for a typical German consumer in 2004 and 245 occasions for a typical French consumer.
The report predicts a further move from 'nutritionally curious' to 'nutritionally active' consumers, with fad dieting and mis-informed dietary habits giving way to more nutritionally aware and sustained healthy eating habits.
However a number of barriers currently inhibit the growth of health on-the-go occasions. The most significant one is the difficulty in finding healthy products in on-the-go locations such as convenient stores and petrol forecourts.
"Choices in the UK are more governed by the proliferation of confectionery and savoury snack products, for which Britain has the most developed market in Europe. This is why it is notable that the UK has a lower percentage of healthy on-the-go occasions than its European counterparts," said Bone.
Another important barrier identified in the report is the cost: consumers do not buy healthy products as often because they perceive that products sold as such are costlier than standard versions.
"Overall, providing healthy on-the-go solutions is poorly developed. The convenience and health mega-trends can no longer be targeted in isolation," concluded Bone.