FOOD DELIVERY: PROS AND CONS OF A NEW TREND31/01/2022
Back in 2020, during the hardest months of the pandemic when stay-at-home orders were imposed almost everywhere in the world, restaurants had to stop their dine-in activities. Many businesses had no option but to close, many others showed resilience by deciding to reinvent themselves. In this perspective, the delivery service became a business opportunity to be rapidly implemented in order to stay afloat. Despite the concern showed at first by consumers – who were worried about the transmission of COVID-19 via food delivery – this choice proved to be successful.
Although during the several lockdowns people tended to prepare and cook food at home, they still craved a variety of dishes that they were unable to replicate in their own kitchens. So food delivery boomed in 2020: in the United States, the market more than doubled during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic; across Europe there was an average, steady growth of 17%. The most mature delivery markets worldwide (Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States) are now four to seven times larger than they were in 2018.
Today, at the beginning of 2022, with the number of Covid-19 cases again on the rise, the situation of the pandemic is still so critical that people are choosing to stay home and reduce social interactions in shared public places, restaurants included. In this scenario that very much resembles a déjà vu, food deliveries are not only proving to be once more an essential lifeline for those operating in the restaurant industry but also a fast-growing ecosystem that can affect a complex system of stakeholders.
From a food waste perspective, food deliveries might have a positive impact as foods are delivered in serving portions. The quantities ordered are still highly dependent on the consumer behavior, yet this has proved to be so conscious lately that there may well be less food waste with deliveries than with meals cooked at home. The same consciousness is leading consumers to prefer delivery services that opt for recyclable packaging thus stressing the importance of a green approach in this market as well.
From a mere business standpoint, in order to create and maintain a virtuous circle, restaurateurs will need to adapt their strategies and partner with the most efficient delivery platforms if they wish to keep their margins. At the same time, delivery platforms will need to improve how they leverage customer data to enhance the user experience and find innovative ways to reduce the costs associated with the service they provide. For all of us, unlocking new opportunities in this market will require an active listening of the powerful forces that are reshaping its trajectory and a rapid understanding of its direction.