Thousands of jobs could be created for disadvantaged people if new catering social enterprises were opened, selling lunches to workers, according to a new report.
The "untapped" workers' lunch market could be worth £775 million a year, said The Camden Society, a charity which runs six catering outlets through its social enterprise chain.
Three per cent of workers who bring in food from home would buy lunch from a catering social enterprise given the choice, a potential new market worth more than £3.3 million every day, according to a survey of 1,300 adults.
The charity called for increased support from local and national government for new social enterprises, more charities to set up similar schemes and a commitment from local businesses and workers to use these outlets.
Denise Largin, chief executive of The Camden Society, said: "The public clearly demand more choice for their lunch and want to feed their social conscience as well as their hunger.
"We are urging other similar organisations to make the most of this window of opportunity and tap in to this market.
"Time is ripe for enterprises that can make a valuable and positive contribution to the community while also meeting the appetites of hungry workers."