Getting dinner delivered to the door has become commonplace for many Americans over the last few years. With an array of smartphone apps and websites like GrubHub, UberEats and Postmates, getting food and drinks delivered on-demand is as easy as a tap of a button.
However, on the restaurant-side of things, challenges remain steadfast for businesses trying to keep those meals warm, delivered on time, and all without eating into a restaurant’s profits. So, the question begs, are restaurants adapting to this new food-delivery climate and if so, what are some of the high-tech solutions available now that restaurateurs can employ?
Traditionally, few restaurants offered food-delivery options. Minus the pizza delivery chains and Chinese food delivery, mom-and-pop and restaurant chains’ business models revolved around diners eating out, not in. Now, restaurant chains like Panera and Applebees are rolling out their own, in-house delivery systems. For good reason, too. Over the last five years, revenue from deliveries rose 20 percent, while the overall number of deliveries rose 10 percent around the country according to The NPD Group.
With such an increase in volume of take-out and delivery, restaurants are having to adapt in different ways to make sure meal quality does not falter because of the delivery time. Food quality is the most important element a food delivery customer looks for, as well. According to Technomic’s Take-out and Off Premise report, 60 percent of consumers said the most critical part of the food delivery process is ensuring the food tastes the same at home as it would in the restaurant.
Couriers for services like GrubHub and UberEats are typically equipped with thermal storage bags to help maintain a meal’s temperature between pickup and delivery. This, however, only mitigates part of the damage a meal can take waiting upwards of an hour or more before the item is picked up. This has forced chefs and restaurant owners alike to get creative combating this issue. Food processing company Lamb Weston designed a new style of packaging for one of America’s most popular food items.
“Crispy on Delivery” is Lamb Weston’s answer to the decades old problem of keeping French fries crisp. Employing the use of strategically placed vents throughout its patent-pending fry packaging, the moisture is able to escape the box while the fries are kept warm and crisp. Other sources of food delivery are also trying to reinvent modern, sustainable ways to package food.
Meal kit company HelloFresh uses boxes made with recycled fibers and its paper bags can also be recycled or composted. The ice packs in the packaging are nontoxic and contain a salt solution can be reused, returned or safely poured down a kitchen drain. Even the panels used for insulation during shipment are made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified sustainable corrugated material and pulper-safe metallized film that are fully recyclable.
The food delivery service market is expected to grow from $17 billion in 2018 to potentially $24 billion by 2023. More consumers want more options when it comes to food delivery. Third party services have been cashing out on this trend and now more restaurant owners are bringing the service in-house. While there are still issues to address with food quality and sustainability practices, the future is certainly looking sweet for the industry.
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