The Food & Drink Blog
The Rise of Gourmet Food Delivery in London. By Charlotte Forsyth, resident vegan.
The UK is a takeaway nation. One study by the market researcher company Mintel found 23% of adults order a takeaway once a week or more, and 33% order one at least once a month. At the same time we are seeing a move towards eating healthy food cooked with high quality ingredients. This apparent contradiction has provided the exciting opportunity for a number of gourmet food delivery services to thrive here in London. Further, the sustainable food movement powered by the digital economy is creating a revolution in healthy food and connected technologies are giving people access to services that suit their needs.
The UK start up culture is slowly beginning to catch up with the initiatives of California, where ‘Slow Food’ (clean and fair produce which is locally sourced) means a meal can be ordered and delivered within 15 minutes on the app Munchery, who also provide someone in need with a free meal. Further, with an estimated 10% of the population being vegetarian, a rise of 360% of vegans in the UK in the past decade to over 500,000 (22% of vegans are estimated to live in London alone) and 1% of the population being coeliac and a huge influx in meat avoiders, dairy avoiders and those with intolerances here in the UK, gourmet food delivery companies would have been making a big mistake to not incorporate enlightened consumers to allergies, intolerances and new ways of eating.
Just Eat began it all by providing the Internet platform for companies that already do deliveries to use their online space. But companies like Deliveroo and Quiqup took this business model one step further, by picking up from restaurants that don’t offer takeaway and delivering by bicycle or scooter within a time slot and alongside real times updates. At the tap of a button they have replaced traditional (and processed) fast-food economy with healthy options, all delivered within a pre-determined window. The ability to edit and customise food for all free from and dietary requirements is a far cry from the landscape even five years ago for takeaway.
Speaking to Quiqup, they believe they are ’actively empowering businesses and bringing the high street back to the community, helping independent businesses fight back.’ This could perhaps be why their business model is so successful, as the FMCG: Social Media and the Consumer White Paper stated that ‘Nielsen found that a combined total of 60% of millennial and generation Z shoppers will happily pay extra for products produced from sustainable sources.’ It makes sense that their partners range from local businesses such as Deliciously Ella’s The Mae Deli, Imbibery and the Portobello Juice Company. They cater to customer experience too, with a special in-app ‘Detox’ category dedicated to detoxers, juicers, vegans and vegetarians. Since they implemented this, their orders in this section have increased by 57%.
Perhaps surprisingly, diet and health food plan delivery services are the largest category of home deliveries in the UK. The choice here is so vast it could be confusing: there are hundreds of plans for every diet type, making this an obvious choice for people suffering from food allergy and intolerances and lifestylers alike. Mealtek, The Detox Kitchen, Raw Fairies, Diet Chef and Body Chef are just a few examples that range from vegan, halal, coeliac, sugar and yeast free. Raw Fairies was set up eight years ago, way ahead of its time, and delivers a daily menu of raw gourmet dishes. Everything they cook is free from meat, fish, dairy, wheat, gluten, potatoes and refined sugar; with only organic ingredients used.
Unsurprisingly, this sector is incredibly competitive, making great news for consumers who have higher and higher expectations and more specific needs. It is unlikely you’d be able to go into a restaurant and ask for a meal free from all of the above. At least, not for a while. But the booming food delivery market does not just include cooked meals, and a number of companies are offering delivery of ingredients and recipes to assemble at home. The food and grocery sector, pointed out Ed Boyes- CEO of Hello Fresh in the UK, is this one area yet to be, ‘fundamentally challenged by innovative online models.’ HelloFresh sends 4m meals out each month to its subscribers in the UK, US, Australia and parts of Europe. A box of three meals for two people won’t be much cheaper than £40, but its high quality and Ed Boyes says, ‘it allows customers to recapture traditional values around food, knowing who your suppliers are and eating together as a family, in a much more convenient format.’ For families with children who have intolerances, this may be a welcome service. It is clearly much easier for someone with specific dietary needs to order food they can eat on a whim, than it is to walk in to a restaurant and ask for a coeliac or vegan meal, for instance. Restaurants are happy to prepare in advance and more and more restaurants already have available options, but it’s safe to say gourmet food delivery have tapped into food intolerances and dietary requirements long before restaurants. Perhaps because there is no room for mistakes- one addition of cheese to a vegan meal could lead to a review that lasts forever on the Internet, so they’ve had to perfect their service faster.
With the very recent introduction of Amazon Fresh to London with delivery slots within an hour, who knows how much further the landscape of gourmet food delivery will evolve? On that note, we’ll never have to leave the sofa!
Gluten: friend or foe? By Hannah Richards, Feel nutritional consultant.
We all have friends who pertain to suffer with Gluten intolerance but what does that mean and should you be giving up gluten too?
Having gluten intolerance comes with many digestive signs and symptoms that you may recognise and pass off as normal. Being gluten free is not only a very real condition but a trend that is on the rise amongst media savvy restaurateurs, food outlets and the public. Whichever angle you come from giving up or reducing gluten comes with many beneficial health and weight loss benefits.