By Nicholas Fereday & Paula Savanti, Senior Analysts – Consumer Foods at Rabobank

A new era in food delivery is rapidly emerging. ‘Food Delivery 2.0’ is shaking up both the food retail and foodservice sectors in the US. Although it is early days, we believe the ubiquity of the smartphone and the rise of the on-demand economy will have a profound and lasting impact on food, as it has in other spheres of our lives.

“We dub this ‘Food Delivery 2.0,'”, said Fereday, “As technology lowers the barriers to entry, it threatens to disrupt both food retail and traditional take-out food service. These new services satisfy our increasing desire for convenience, mass personalization, and our preference for managing more of our lives online”. In their latest report, Fereday and Savanti identifyfive key elements driving the surge in food delivery popularity:

 

New players and platforms threaten to disrupt both food retail and food service

  • Delivery Apps: These platforms have updated the old-school delivery model to the modern era, providing a mobile platform for centralizing ordering and delivery from a multitude of local restaurants.
  • Online Grocery: New players have entered the grocery space, providing online ordering options and next-day or within-hours delivery of all types of grocery products.
  • Meal Kits: These subscription-based businesses deliver a box of pre-measured ingredients so that consumers can prepare their own home-cooked meals following the step-by-step recipe included in the box.
  • Ready Meals: Ready-meal companies make complete meals and deliver them hot or chilled. Menu choices are often limited, but meals are designed and prepared by professional chefs.

Five ‘orders-to-go’ for the food industry

  1. At your convenience. Ultimately, this is a story of convenience. Saving consumers’ time and making their lives a little easier—removing the headache of what to eat tonight.
  2. Focus on food, not just the tech. The future is about food and logistics. The pricing and quality of products will be key in determining the winners in the ready meal and grocery space.
  3. Getting the last mile right. Having a cool app, or other technology, is not enough, as it does not diminish the age-old dilemma of getting the product from A to B as quickly as possible. Getting the logistics right—with ever-shrinking delivery times—is vital in making or breaking a business.
  4. Expect some shake-out. A lot of money is flowing into the sector. But who will survive? Despite stratospheric valuations, many of these companies are struggling to make the economics work.
  5. A hot topic, but not total meltdown. Food Delivery 2.0 will not lead to a total displacement of existing players, but we do see a long-term future for these new platforms to complement the existing routes to the consumer.

“Competition for the consumer’s food dollar has never been greater,” said Paula Savanti, Rabobank Senior Research Analyst, Consumer Foods. “Last year, the amount we spent at restaurants and other food service venues exceeded our grocery shopping bills for the first time—a major milestone.”

 

To read more about Food Delivery 2.0: Early Lessons from a Young, but Crowded Space and to see more reports from Nicholas Fereday and Paula Savanti, visit far.rabobank.com.

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