Online food delivery has been on the rise for years, and the U. S. restaurant industry has been growing at a rate of 3 to 4 percent annually. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, delivery sales have increased at twice that rate, from 7 to 8 percent.
This surge in demand is largely due to millennials and Generation Z preferring the convenience of prepared meals over grocery shopping. The direct-to-consumer trend has been further highlighted during the pandemic, as customers are able to purchase groceries and meals with contactless delivery. Shopping online allows consumers to plan their purchases and research specific products quickly and easily. Small businesses have also seen a significant boost in their businesses through the online channel.
E-commerce has been a lifesaver for many small local businesses that were forced to close their doors due to blockades. Comprehensive personalization helps customers take into account food allergies and dietary recommendations with each meal. Platform-to-consumer food delivery models are becoming increasingly popular, as customers can order their favorite food through their smartphones. Business owners who can offer a more sustainable option and clearly market their green credentials will be able to capitalize on this growing trend.
Hyperlocal food delivery has become a major focus during the pandemic, as it helps food companies avoid high commissions from third-party delivery services like UberEATS. Subscriptions are available for all types of food delivery, from fast food delivery services like Uber Eats' “Eats Pass” to popular recipe boxes. According to the Food Information Council, pre-prepared fresh meals, menu kits with raw ingredients, and other home food kits that save customers time are particularly attractive to millennials, who prioritize convenience over consistent flavor. The trend of home subscriptions is a perfect match for both specialized online food delivery and the millennial generation.
This type of delivery is likely to reach the food industry, with some companies already testing drones for fast food delivery. North America is one of the largest markets for international online food delivery; it currently represents the largest online food delivery market in the world.