What is the future of the Takeaway industry? | Matt Ephgrave, Managing Director of City Pantry

The takeaway industry has been one of the few sectors able to operate and thrive in the pandemic and has provided a lifeline to many hospitality businesses.. Pre-pandemic, the industry continued to grow at a fast-moving pace thanks to the rising popularity of on-demand apps, yet its acceleration reached new levels as lockdowns hit the nation. Not only were order numbers increasing, but the quality of orders improved, with an average price of orders increasing by 10% as consumers looked to ‘treat themselves’ according to data compiled by City Pantry.

Restaurants were not alone in pivoting their model to provide takeaways. At City Pantry, our corporate food delivery offering required a takeaway alternative; and that came in the form of Pantry Packages for everyone at home.The whole industry has been shaken up – takeaway businesses have become more lucrative and other hospitality businesses have been forced to rethink how they can reach their audiences.

The trends of takeaways over the last year

With takeaway orders being a regular occurrence in people’s households over the past year, we cannot be surprised to see many consumers change their eating habits over lockdown, opting for new dishes, away from their usual go-to treats. According to City Pantry and Just Eat, lockdown saw more of the UK indulging in sweet treats. However, it was not all unhealthy. The North East saw an increase of 124% on healthy takeaway choices, with people opting for more vegetarian and vegan options.

This trend for healthy eating has also been reflected in people’s lunch break choices. City Pantry found that lockdown encouraged people to use their lunch breaks to curate a better work-life balance, with more people cooking meals from scratch or ordering more healthy food.

With health and wellbeing moving to the forefront of people’s minds, it was vital that companies offered vouchers, sent meal kits and treat boxes to workers to maintain employee engagement and happiness. Looking to the future, 69% of companies are looking to return to the office by July 2021, and 80% are planning to continue to offer working from home. As we look to head back to the office, companies will need to offer support for both people in and out of the office as food will be a perk for workers wherever they are.

Emerging trends for 2021

Throughout the most part of 2020 and into 2021 where takeaways have been ordered at scale, consumers and businesses alike have used this time to reflect on the delivery model and its environmental impact. We can therefore expect to see a huge emphasis and backing on building and maintaining a sustainable industry as we navigate our way throughout 2021 and into 2022.

With increased orders, inevitably comes increased product and packaging, heavily contributing to the increase of single-use packaging being discarded daily. This year we can expect, and already are beginning to see, changes in behaviours in businesses combating this. For example, pre-pandemic, we partnered with eco friendly compostable catering company, Green Man Packaging in 2018 to provide vendors with sustainable containers for their orders, and more recently launched new recyclable cardboard delivery boxes in September 2020 in a bid to cut carbon emissions.

And the emerging changing behaviours towards a more sustainable industry do not stop there. Consumers and businesses have become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of delivery. With the pandemic placing a huge reliance on couriers for takeaways, many corporations have reevaluated their delivery practices and made the transition to bike and walking couriers for carbon neutral delivery. Last year, we made the decision to work with e-cargo bike delivery service Pedal me and Urb-it the walking courier to reduce our carbon footprint and haven’t looked back.

Lockdown has provided reflection time for consumers and businesses to reassess their priorities whether that be catering to the changing tastes of the nation or changing their environmental priorities.

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