Food delivery set to take a hit, restaurant chains pushing takeaway orders –

Restaurant News
Food delivery set to take a hit, restaurant chains pushing takeaway orders
Food delivery volumes are expected to take a further dent after a delivery staff from Zomato’s restaurant partner Box8 tested positive for Covid-19 even as many restaurant chains have started to scale back delivery and encourage consumers to pick up takeaway orders.

The incident on Wednesday led to local authorities asking 72 families in South Delhi to self-quarantine, and caused huge panic among consumers.

This is likely to hurt the online food ordering business, which had just about started to recover to clock a 20% increase over the last week as regulations became clearer, more restaurants opened up and customers started ordering, industry experts and company executives told ET.

Many consumers took to social media to question Zomato’s safety protocols with respect to delivery and overall safety standards.

The food delivery firm, in a statement, clarified that while the order was placed on its platform, it was fulfilled by the restaurant through its own delivery fleet.

Box8 said it has shared all required information with local authorities and quarantined all its other staff and shut down its cloud kitchen in the South Delhi locality.

National Restaurant Association of India came out in support of the delivery executive. “We can’t attach any stigma to anyone falling sick, especially in the line of duty,” its president Anurag Katria said.

Many restaurant chains have started encouraging takeaway orders to minimise the impact of a consumer backlash.

“We are encouraging our customers to take away their food from our restaurants and cloud kitchens near their respective residences, although deliveries through Zomato and Swiggy are absolutely safe as they adhere to strict protocols,” said Anjan Chatterjee, chairman of Speciality Restaurants that runs Mainland China and Oh Calcutta, The company has sent WhatsApp messages to its customer base of some 900,000 people.

The restaurant chain is doing 85% takeaways, and only tactical deliveries through Swiggy and Zomato, Chatterjee told ET, adding that it has implemented stringent and regular temperature checks of all delivery staff and food handlers, and provision of sanitisers to the delivery staff, among other measures.

Jubilant FoodWorks, which operates the country’s largest QSR chain Domino’s Pizza, issued a clarification that “the recent news about a pizza delivery person being tested positive for Covid-19 in South Delhi…does not pertain to Domino’s.”

In a statement the company that operates over 1,325 restaurants in the country also said all its delivery staff are 100% company employees and following heightened sanitisation and hygiene protocols.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s North and East said the burger and fries chain has implemented stringent safety and social distancing measures for employees and customers, and aligned delivery partners by sharing best practices on hygiene and sanitation.

DeGustibus Hospitality, which operates Indigo, Tote and Dakshin Rasoi restaurants, said it isn’t doing deliveries. “We have not been doing deliveries because of the risks involved, though we have three delivery-only brands. At this stage, safety of staff and consumers is the topmost priority for us,” said NRAI’s Katriar who is also the CEO of DeGustibus.

The incident has taken place even as the government is set to allow ecommerce operations in several parts of the country after April 20.

Over the last few weeks, food delivery players such as Rebel Foods, Swiggy and Zomato have upped their communication on safety and hygiene standards.

Rebel, for instance, taking cues from China, has introduced live body temperature tracker on its app to provide customers a live feed of body temperatures for those handling heir order from the cook, kitchen executive to the delivery person.

Swiggy and Zomato have also filtered select restaurants as “safer” that have rolled out features such as temperature control, sanitation every 4-hours, use of masks, and safe packing mechanisms among others.

All apps offer customer no-contact delivery, which means that the food package is prepared, packed and delivered in a process designed to minimise or eliminate contact between the delivery partner and the end customer.

They have also said they offer Covid-19 insurance to delivery partners. Zomato’s Delivery Partner Insurance Plan covers hospitalisation costs as well as lost earnings in case a delivery partner gets infected by Covid-19.

Source: Thanks