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Restaurant Consumer Trends

Delivery and Takeaway: Sustaining Growth in the Restaurant Sector

Delivery and Takeaway: Sustaining Growth in the Restaurant Sector

Key Takeaways

• Delivery and takeaway sales continue to grow in Britain’s restaurant sector

• Food distributors face new challenges and opportunities

• The shift towards ordering-in reshapes the restaurant supply chain

• Sustained growth driven by consumer demand for convenience

Continued Surge in Delivery and Takeaway

In recent months, Britain’s leading managed restaurant groups have witnessed a sustained increase in delivery and takeaway sales, marking a significant shift in consumer dining habits. According to data from CGA by NIQ’s new Hospitality at Home Tracker, delivery sales rose by 8% in February 2024 compared to the same month in the previous year. This growth is not an isolated incident; it’s part of an ongoing trend that has seen delivery and takeaway sales rise for eight consecutive months. The convenience of ordering-in has become increasingly appealing to consumers, with deliveries accounting for 11% of restaurant groups’ sales in February, while takeaways and click-and-collect orders comprised 4%.

This trend is not solely a response to the global pandemic, as one might initially think. While COVID-19 certainly accelerated the adoption of delivery and takeaway services, the sustained growth beyond the immediate crisis suggests a deeper, more permanent shift in consumer preferences. Convenience, coupled with improvements in service quality and the proliferation of online ordering platforms, has made the option of dining at home more attractive than ever.

Implications for Food Distributors

The ripple effects of this shift extend far beyond the restaurants themselves, impacting the entire supply chain, including food distributors. These companies, which provide restaurants with everything from fresh produce to packaged goods, are now facing a dual challenge. On one hand, the rise in delivery and takeaway sales opens new opportunities for growth and expansion. Distributors can cater to the evolving needs of restaurants, offering products and services tailored to the delivery and takeaway market, such as packaging solutions and smaller, more frequent deliveries.

On the other hand, the change also presents significant challenges. The increase in delivery and takeaway services demands a faster, more flexible supply chain. Distributors must adapt to shorter lead times and more variable order volumes, requiring significant investments in logistics and technology. Furthermore, as the market becomes more competitive, maintaining quality and reliability becomes even more crucial. Distributors that fail to meet these evolving demands risk being left behind.

A Look Ahead: The Future of Delivery and Takeaway

As the restaurant sector continues to evolve, the growth of delivery and takeaway services is expected to sustain. Consumer demand for convenience shows no sign of waning, and technological advancements promise to make ordering-in even easier and more appealing. For food distributors, this means the landscape will continue to shift. Success in this new environment will require not just adaptation, but innovation. Distributors that can leverage technology to improve efficiency, enhance quality, and meet the fast-changing needs of restaurants and their customers will be well-positioned to thrive.

Moreover, sustainability will play an increasingly important role. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, demand for eco-friendly packaging and locally sourced ingredients is rising. Distributors that can meet these demands while maintaining efficiency and quality will likely gain a competitive edge.

In conclusion, the sustained growth in delivery and takeaway sales in Britain’s restaurant sector is reshaping the food supply chain, presenting both challenges and opportunities for distributors. By embracing change and focusing on flexibility, quality, and sustainability, distributors can not only survive but thrive in this evolving market.

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