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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

Excepted items: catering: secondary catering issues: packed lunches

Where a trader provides packed lunches for an event or function, such as for coach parties or race meetings, we would consider the supplies to be in the course of catering and therefore standard-rated.

Where there is no link to an event or function and consumption is off the supplier’s premises, the supply will normally be of zero-rated cold foodstuffs, but with standard rating applying to any excepted items.

However, where a hotel or similar establishment provides a packed lunch to a guest for consumption off the premises, and it is not linked to an event, you should apply the following criteria:

  • where the supply consists of accommodation and meals at an inclusive price, such as full board, half board, or bed and breakfast, you should treat it as a single standard-rated supply, even if any of the meals are taken as packed meals; and
  • where a separate charge is made for the packed meal, it is a separate supply and zero-rated unless any items are standard-rated as exceptions.