Published 06 May 2020
Delivery and take-out revenues have soared as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But have we changed what we’re eating during this time?
Food delivery businesses are noticing changes in the way we’re eating during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re eating different foods at different times to usual, and our choices appear to be negatively influenced by where the coronavirus has hit hardest.
Delivery businesses globally are reporting that we’re looking for ‘comfort foods’ and ‘desserts’ more often, whereas healthy foods and searches for ‘vegan’ options are on the decline. And Google Trends shows that demand for Italian and Chinese foods (two areas hit hard by the pandemic) has dropped significantly.
Yelp reports that US interest in pizzerias has grown by 44% and interest in fast-food restaurants has grown by 64% since the pandemic began.
On average, pizza restaurants such as Papa Johns, Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Little Caesars are seeing only a 5% drop in revenue compared to last year - quite the success story compared to how other food businesses are faring. And while order volumes are down, the average check size is much larger. The continued success of the pizza industry during the pandemic is thought to be due to it travelling well, being relatively cheap and satisfying the urge for something other than a home-cooked meal.
Both Deliveroo and Uber Eats are observing that consumers are eating dinner much earlier than previously - sometimes up to two hours earlier. The change is related to the demographic of people ordering - families now place more orders compared to singles and couples before the outbreak.
The types of food ordered have changed too. Deliveroo reports that demand for fish and chips has increased by a whopping 597 percent in the last month, and ice cream demand has also surged.
Uber Eats Australia reports that demand for breakfast and brunch orders have doubled, and that Australians are more likely to eat comfort foods such as butter chicken and pad thai than ever before. The outlier city is Hobart in Tasmania where they’re more likely to order healthier foods than their counterparts in other major Australian cities.
The biggest shift in Europe appears to be the demand for groceries from apps such as Uber Eats. With over 1000 grocery and convenience stores listed on the app across Europe (and over 3500 worldwide), consumers are looking less to the app for take-out and more for items such as bread, eggs and toilet paper.
Uber Eats reports that the number of downloads of its app doubled in March in Europe and they’ve seen a 59% increase in grocery orders as a result.
In an interesting twist, Google Trends has found that demand for food from countries hit hard by the coronavirus has dropped significantly, with Italian and Chinese food being the worst affected. Both foods are normally in top 5 choices for English speaking countries such as the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Ireland but demand has dropped across the world.
The demand for Chinese food has been worst hit with a 33% decrease globally. In Spain, demand for Chinese dishes has dropped by 73% and in Japan by a whopping 96%. Similarly, the demand for Italian food in Japan has also dropped by 96% with a 34% decrease worldwide.
As restaurants around the world start to shift their attention to reopening their doors, it will be interesting to see whether the habits formed during the COVID-19 pandemic are here to stay, and the impact this has on the hospitality industry.