How has the food delivery market changed since COVID?

It wouldn’t be an overly dramatic statement to say that the food delivery market has seen profound change and growth over the past few years, and the coronavirus crisis has played a major role in this. However, it might be equally accurate to say that in many ways the pandemic has only accelerated food delivery trends that were already underway.

So precisely How? ‘Or’ What Has the food delivery industry changed since the first coronavirus outbreak, and what implications does all of this have for the months and years to come?

Photo by Rowan Freeman on Unsplash

A story of growth – but also of dramatic changes in the way we eat

The simplest answer to the question of how the food delivery market has changed over the past few years would be that it has continued to grow ever faster from an already high base.

According to Statista, the value of the UK foodservice delivery market was around £10.5 billion in 2021, with this figure expected to rise to £13.3 billion in 2022, and to £14.6 billion in 2024.

There is no doubt, however, that the onset of the pandemic marked a sea change in the way many of us found ourselves shopping for food. As a BBC report notesApril 2020 – one of the first months of the COVID-19 crisis in Europe – saw global Google searches for “food delivery” and “local food” reach all-time highs.

Along with this, lockdown restrictions have been imposed, forcing hospitality businesses to close their public-facing brick-and-mortar venues, at least temporarily. It’s no surprise, then, that these businesses – including restaurants and takeaways – have hastily invested in their websites, apps and online ordering systems, to put themselves in the strongest position. possible to continue accepting customer orders.

What other ways has food delivery evolved over the past few years?

The longer restaurants and takeaways remained closed – at least in terms of their “traditional” presences on the high streets – the more customers became accustomed to buying food online and requesting food delivery to their own gate.

With individual restaurants and eateries often not having their own infrastructure to accept online orders during the early stages of the pandemic, third-party online food delivery services – such as Deliveroo – saw considerable demand.

Sure enough, Deliveroo itself has taken advantage of rapidly changing circumstances by partnering with leading retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Morrisons and Co-op to deliver groceries to homes. Meanwhile, Uber Eats entered into its own partnership with Sainsbury’s in October.

Even after lockdown, food delivery retains its relevance

While – at the time of writing in August 2022 – COVID-19 related lockdown restrictions have long been published in the UK, it seems likely that the food delivery market will continue to strengthen.

After all, customers have now become familiar with the speed and convenience of ordering food online for delivery, using nothing more than an app or a link to a website. Indeed, many restaurants and takeaways have recently invested in building their own branded apps to circumvent third-party food delivery apps.

In 2020, research suggested that it was people aged 18-34 in the UK who were particularly quick to increase their use of food delivery services in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This shouldn’t be a hugely surprising finding, given the renowned digital proficiency of this generation of food shoppers, and it should underscore the importance for food companies to ensure they have well-established online presences. developed for years to come.

Along the way, we’re seeing more and more businesses spring up that in many cases were built “from the ground up” as businesses primarily accepting online orders, as opposed to necessarily having a physical point of sale facing the public.

These start-ups are also showing a high level of imagination and innovation, providing services that might never have been associated with food delivery.

One such company is Indulge, which specializes in offering gourmet meal kits, barbecue meal kits and even afternoon tea meal kits – the latter replicating very well the experience customers might have had while enjoying afternoon tea in many physical establishments. over the years. Yes, with Indulge you really can have a afternoon tea meal kit delivered to your door this summer! These afternoon tea kits are usually delivered on Fridays and can be consumed up to three days after delivery.

As the developments above show, a lot has changed in the food delivery market in just a few years. However, at least one thing seems very clear: this will be an industry that will continue to produce ingenious solutions that bring greater convenience to customers’ lives, for many years to come.