The 2010s In Food Trends: Delivery Upended The Way We Think About Meals – Forbes

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Grocery and restaurant delivery has been around for generations. But before the 2010s, customers had to do some work to make sure food arrived at their doors.

They had to know which grocery stores delivered. Then, they had to go pick out their items, and leave them for someone to bring them, or have a grocer who could take an order by phone.

If they were lucky, they could use a home delivery service like Peapod, but its availability was limited.

Likewise, getting restaurant food delivered often meant you had to have paper menus in your house, until you ordered frequently enough that you could tell the place to send “the usual.”

For the most part, many good restaurants, and lots of fast food brands, didn’t offer delivery. For them, you had to pick it up (or pay a trust worthy cabbie).

The 2010s removed the hassle.

Websites and apps gave home cooks a huge array of supermarket items, whether they needed them in an hour, or could wait a day or two for them to land on their doorsteps.

Meal kits meant you got pre-portioned ingredients, a potential time-saver, even if the result was excess packaging.

Delivery apps made all manner of restaurant food available, from luxury to cheap, while individual restaurants made it easy to send their wares.

In cities large and small, delivery has changed the way we look at meals – even if we don’t wholeheartedly embrace it.

Travel is no longer required, as long as you are willing to pay for it to be brought to you. Making a voice call is no longer necessary, either.

The share of Americans who have ordered food via the Web grew to 24 percent this past year, a leap from 17 percent, The Atlantic reported.

Business by the four largest meal delivery companies – Door Dash, GubHub and Seamless, Uber Eats and Postmates – has triple since 2016, accord to Second Measure, an analytics company.

Of course, vast numbers of people still go to the supermarket, but even here, the Web has changed the customer experience.

Shopping apps offer multiple brands. If Whole Foods doesn’t have it, Safeway might. You might prefer Aldi’s lower prices, or the availability at Kroger. Simply pick the store and the items, and delivery companies can bring them.

As long as we can access a restaurant delivery app, all manner of cuisine is available, as long as the restaurant is open — and, there doesn’t even need to be an physical restaurant.

Over the past couple of years, ghost kitchens have sprung up in cities all over the United States. They’re essentially commissaries, with brands attached.

And, delivery markets have joined them, sending beer, cookies and even prepared food.

For years, experts have predicted the looming disruption from delivery. A McKinsey study in 2016 predicted that online penetration of all food delivery in the U.S. could grow as high as 65 percent.

Back then, online ordering was already 56 percent in Sweden, and 43 percent in Austria.

But in order for delivery to work, there have to be people to deliver the food. And, that ties in with another trend of the 2010s — the struggle by all kinds of places to find employees.

As with ride hailing, it’s likely that the 2020s will see a re-thinking of the economics of food delivery. Cities all over the country are pondering how to handle the growth of delivery vehicles, from bicycles and scooters to cars.

However, consumers now know their laptops, tablets, voice-activated devices and phones have become an integral part of the way they look at meals.

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