UK office workers’ appetite for meal deals, takeaway salads and quick-service restaurants means they’re consuming ingredients they can’t identify and don’t know the meaning of.

Among the ingredients commonly found in our lunches that we’re baffled by are modified food starch, xanthan gum, potassium chloride, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, palm oil, carrageenan, polysorbates, sodium benzoate and artificial colours and flavours.

More than a third (37%) of 1,300 office workers surveyed in the nationwide poll by meal delivery company Frive said they didn’t think they’d be able to confidently explain what any of them are, and even more (63%) said they were unsure on the impact they could have on their health.

Despite 8 in 10 (80%) saying that having a healthy lunch during their working day is important to them, 91% revealed they don’t always check the ingredients list of the items they are purchasing, especially if they are in a rush or not displayed directly on the packet. 3 in 10 (32%) admitted they rarely or never recognise all of the ingredients listed even when they do check.

But office workers are craving simpler options, with 80% saying it can be confusing to understand what ingredients are actually in on-the-go options. 86% said they’d love to buy lunches with a simpler ingredients list, which they could be confident contained no UPFs and artificial ingredients.

Frive is on a mission to revolutionise meal times and help busy Brits thrive in health and in life with healthy, high quality, chef-prepared meals. Each Frive meal is designed to be nutritionally balanced and contains only real, whole foods – absolutely no UPFs or artificial preservatives, additives, flavourings or sweeteners. Easy and convenient, ready-prepared meals are delivered to doorsteps twice a week and can be ready to heat and eat in as little as three minutes.

Nutritionist Sophie Trotman who has been working with Frive says, “It’s clear we’re trying to be healthy, but often the places we buy our lunch don’t make it easy for us. Ingredients lists can be really long, and full of things we don’t recognise – and sometimes they aren’t even displayed at all. 

“Often pre-packaged options are ultra-processed and packed full of preservatives to make them last longer on the shelf. Consuming these additional ingredients on a regular basis can contribute to a whole host of health concerns. Many popular lunch options are also often high in carbohydrates and unhealthy fats while lacking in protein, which is essential for making us feel full.  

“It is essential for meals to be filling, so as to decrease the likelihood of mindless snacking later in the day. Protein is also essential for muscle repair and growth, immune system support and so much more.”

Despite craving healthier options, office workers are still addicted to convenience. Some 64% say they grab lunch on-the-go on a weekly basis, with almost 1 in 4 (24%) admitting to opting for convenient but unhealthy options three or more times every week.

The poll found that the majority (70%) of on-the-go munchers opt for a sandwich, with other popular items including a wrap (31%), pasty or sausage roll (31%) or fast food (27%).

As a result, the average office worker will get through 99 sandwiches, 88 chocolate bars, 67 pasties, 62 wraps, 61 pasta pots and 50 packets of sushi during their lunch breaks throughout the year.

Top reasons for purchasing lunch on-the-go are for convenience (53%), because they feel they don’t have time to prepare anything (32%), because they feel too tired to prepare anything (22%) and because they like the amount of choice in the shops (20%).

Almost one in five (18%) say they rarely or never prep meals to take to the office, ranking relaxing (64%), socialising (47%), catching up on their latest shows (43%) and exercising (38%) as bigger priorities than meal-prepping (17%).

However, nearly half (49%) actually said they preferred lunches prepared at home over ones purchased on-the-go. Two-thirds (68%) said they thought lunches prepared at home were a healthier option and 56% don’t think there are many places to grab a healthy lunch near their work.

The most popular place for office workers to buy lunch on-the-go is the supermarket, however when analysing the number of ingredients in a leading supermarket’s most popular meal deal sandwiches and wraps, Frive found that they could contain up to 50 different ingredients – 22% of which were artificial, on average.

When asked to guess how many ingredients made up the most popular choice, almost all (99%) struggled to identify the correct amount with 63% assuming it contained approximately a third of the number of ingredients listed.


Founder and CEO of Frive, George Taylor, said: “With today’s demanding job roles and time constraints, we’ve all been guilty of getting the easy option at lunch, but the reality is many of these on the-go-products can be packed full of artificial preservatives, additives and flavour enhancers that the body is just simply not designed to consume – and its compromising our health. We want to inspire and enable busy people to eat well, live better, and thrive by delivering high-quality, chef-prepared meals packed with nutrition while still being incredibly tasty. We have already taken huge steps as a business, removing all artificial ingredients and ultra-processed foods from our meals, providing pure, real food that’s good for your health and the planet.”

Sophie continues, “Busy people need to ensure they’re fuelling their body with the right types of foods which is why Frive is such a brilliant option to have in your arsenal. The meals are nutritionally balanced, satisfying and free of any nasties. And, they are so easy to incorporate into a busy lifestyle.”

Sophie’s top tips to help busy people thrive: 

  1. Organisation is a key part of any health journey. Ensuring you have nutritionally-balanced, tasty meals like Frive is an excellent way to stay on track.
  2. Keep healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, yoghurt, and fresh fruit handy. This can prevent you from reaching for less healthy options when you’re hungry and on the go.
  3. Include a source of protein with every meal. Protein helps with satiety, muscle repair, and keeping energy levels steady. Good sources include lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, and tofu.
  4. Reduce your intake of sugary snacks, fizzy drinks, and heavily processed foods. These can lead to energy crashes and contribute to long-term health issues.
  5. Take time to enjoy your food without distractions. Eating mindfully helps you to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, which can prevent overeating and improve digestion.
  6. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and aim to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining energy levels and overall health.
  7. Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables. They’re just as nutritious as fresh ones and can be quickly added to smoothies, soups, or stir-fries.
  8. Make sure to incorporate sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil into your diet. These fats are essential for brain health and can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
  9. Include omega-3 rich foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids support heart health and reduce inflammation.
  10. Choose whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta over refined grains. Whole grains provide more fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

For more information, and to get 40% off the first week and 20% off the second and third week visit www.frive.co.uk. Offer valid until the end of June.

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