How Dark Kitchen and delivery has become mainstream in 2021 globally

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And hot food delivery has, in the last 6 months, increased user penetration from 20% to 80% of the population.
  • Nusra Deputy Features Editor
Food Delivery

In many countries, take out or delivery for restaurants has converted from 5-20% of their business, to now, 80-100% of their business. And hot food delivery has, in the last 6 months, increased user penetration from 20% to 80% of the population. When you factor in generational demographics, this sort of user shift would normally have taken 10-20 years to occur. Handling that level of demand increase in such a short amount of time is not an easy feat, especially for restaurants not designed for the significant reversal of demand and distribution channel, from dine-in to take-out / delivery.  “That is where cloud kitchens have risen to meet this demand - and the new normal. What was once an optional consideration for the consumer is now exclusively the only choice,” shared Kent Wu, COO JustKitchen. And even post-COVID, this new modality will be part of the landscape; just as fast food (QSR) became part of the F&B space. And more recently fast casual restaurants, which was the blend of fast but healthier food, has experienced great success. With decreasing rates of cooking at home in our fast paced and busy lives, the pie is getting larger and is being split into ever-more nuanced verticals.

Selecting the best of the menu

Menu design or menu engineering what we may call in the delivery space remains an integral part of the food business. According to researches and reports at global level, menu items or foods like Pizza, Pasta and Salads work very well in the delivery space. Also, talking about Indian markets where north Indian cuisine holds a major chunk of the business, biryani and south Indian foods are most preferred items after pizza. “There’s no denying that Pizza, pasta and salada are top most selling items in delivery but we have our soups that is the highest selling item in our menu and it’s better than fried foods like burgers and fries etc. In general there is a significant part of food category that delivers well,” added Wu who believed that it also depends on packaging and too some extent packaging depends on the geographies and location of players as it works differently at different level.

Why it’s all about Automation

With more and more brands entering into the delivery space serving multi-cuisine from a single kitchen, automation definitely becomes the need of the hour because the more the demand, you will have to match with the need because in online or the delivery space an aggregator generally gives10-15 minutes of the time to prepare a food. Hence, automation comes into the picture. “I had 2-3 QSRs back in 2015-16 and was dreaming to make it the McDonald’s of the food. But from the 5th outlet we were not able to maintain consistency, we had attrition and we have people coming who used to say that the food at your outlet here is good but there is not good. We weren’t making money as we were bootstrapped and we want to make money. And, that’s when me and my co-founder started with a very basic machine called Dosamtic and it came out very well and many restaurants started approaching us asking for the machine as they have the same problem. And that’s how our whole journey of automation started,” shared Eshwar K Vikas, CEO & Co-Founder of Mukunda Foods who is now a major supplier of automated machines to the restaurant and delivery kitchens including the likes of Rebel Foods and Swiggy to name a few.

Customer is the King

"At the end of the day whether it is the dark kitchen or not the central party is the customer and ultimately you have customers who are mostly delivery dependant. Any customer at any point in time is choosing a brand based on what is suiting their needs. Even if there is a customer who is ordering on delivery, there is a brand that the customer is trusting. And, if you say brands it starts with the taste of the food to the packaging it came in. And, back to how and where it was prepare," said Vishal Kapur, COO, North Africa, Alamar Foods that runs Domino's in the region.

Hence, looking at the current scenario, we can say that delivery and dark-kitchen business is here to stay with food, quality and obviously customer being the king in the sector.

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