With social distancing the new norm, consumers are clamoring to have takeout food delivered. Third-party delivery services are partnering with businesses large and small
Though many restaurants around the world are now closed for business due to COVID-19, some have only shut down their sit-down service, remaining open to provide takeaway and delivery service for customers.
Get KerryDigest articles delivered to your inbox
Amidst changing regulations and expectations, having access to favorite and familiar foodservice and delivery items is offering consumers comfort during this difficult time, says Christina Furlong, Consumer & Market Insight Specialist for Kerry Europe. It’s also providing convenience and access to fresh food for people who may be restricting contact with others.
Offering delivery can help restaurants mitigate costs during this period of disruption and also ease the return to normal working conditions once COVID-19 is no longer a threat. The rate of adaption to new regulations, technologies and ways of working has allowed thousands of operators to offer uninterrupted service in a time of great uncertainty,” says Furlong.
We’ve collected information for restaurants considering or already offering such services, including statistics on the growing takeaway and delivery trend and suggestions for responding to consumer concerns while maintaining a reputation of safety and trust.
A marked uptick in food deliveries during COVID-19
The title of a recent article from Food Navigator accurately captures the present situation: “Online Food Delivery One of the Only Winners in Coronavirus Outbreak”. Despite some concerns, food deliveries are becoming a popular option as people reduce their social interactions.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much growth there has been in this area, since services such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Postmates haven’t released recent usage statements. But higher demand has led to higher pricing in some areas and some companies are recruiting new drivers for their deliver staff. Uber, for example, recently provided Uber-only drivers with information on adding Uber Eats food deliveries to their services. Within the first week, around 15% of Uber drivers had completed their first food delivery.
At the same time, restaurants that did not previously offer delivery are now doing so. This list includes small town locales and fast food as well as fine dining establishments. For example, Hide, a high-end restaurant in Mayfair, London, partnered with Supper, a third-party delivery company that specialises in delivering fine restaurant meals. Prices start at £3 for bread and butter and go up to £240 for 30g of Beluga caviar.
Changing regulations means that in many places, beer, wine and alcohol are also on the menu for delivery.
Food delivery companies responding to demand and health risks
Restaurant locations often select a single third-party delivery service to partner with, and each operation comes with unique benefits. Businesses only now considering offering delivery may want to investigate what companies are doing to help ease fears and increase restaurant, driver and customer safety around COVID-19.
UBER Eats and Deliveroo, among others, have launched contactless “leave at your door service” to help drivers and customers adhere to social distancing guidelines. Many have published guidelines around hygiene and food safety for employees, and some have pledged to temporarily remove restaurants from their service if there has been confirmation of exposure to COVID‑19.
A number of third-party delivery services are also performing acts of philanthropy and goodwill, from delivering free meals to healthcare workers and the elderly to waiving delivery and activation fees for restaurants in an effort to help keep small businesses afloat.
Restaurants take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19
As we reported in our recent article “Storytelling in Food and Beverage Marketing”, there is a benefit to addressing food safety and health concerns straight on. Because hygiene is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19, it may be beneficial for restaurants to publicize the efforts taken by kitchen and delivery staff to stop the spread of the disease.
In addition to understanding already in place strict food hygiene standards, consumers may be interested to learn if your business has:
- New practices for social distancing in the kitchen, in queues or during delivery pickups
- A policy for staff members who display symptoms of COVID-19
- Any updates to standard practices and cleaning processes
- Changes in food delivery, such as containers that allow for easier disinfection or a better customer experience
Some consumers may remain worried about the transmission of COVID-19 through food delivery, but there has not yet been evidence to suggest that the virus can be spread through food or packaging. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states there is “no evidence” to support such claims, which is echoed by the UK’s guidance for food businesses government on their website.
Still, it is recommended that consumers maintain good hygiene practices when accepting deliveries, such as wiping down and/or disposing of packaging and washing their hands thoroughly before and after handling food and eating. Spreading the word about these best practices can also contribute to perceptions of better customer service.
Deliveries enhancing service in a time of uncertainty, and beyond
Though it is uncertain where the delivery trend will go in the post-COVID-19 world, many operators are working as hard as they can to work with consumers in a challenging environment to remain relevant and provide an excellent service. Some restaurants that adopt the takeaway route may continue to provide this service when the crisis concludes in an effort to meet new expectations from consumers.
To learn more about how COVID-19 is affecting the food and beverage industry, including changes in consumer preferences and purchasing behaviours, visit Kerry’s COVID-19 resource page.