BREAKING NEWS: Home delivery in Britain growing 10 times faster than eating-out market

Bikers working for Food delivery service Deliveroo enter a restaurant to pick up meals they will deliver, on March 31, 2016 in Paris.
Food delivery service Deliveroo, created in 2013 in the UK and operating in France for a year, said on March 31 it had already served a " million meals " in France, presenting itself as the "leader" of this thriving market . / AFP / Eric FEFERBERG        (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

The delivery channel in Britain’s eating-out foodservice market (known as out-of-home or OOH) was worth £3.6 billion last year, up 6% on the previous 12 months, it was revealed today.

The growth means that the scale of the delivery channel has expanded nearly 50% in value terms since 2008, according to NPD Group, which published the figures.

Last year delivery grew 10 times faster than the total OOH market. While total visits to ‘eat out’ increased just 1% year-on-year to 11.3 billion, the delivery sector jumped nearly 10% to 599 million visits in 2016.

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Most delivery business (over 80% of visits) is through the fast-food QSR channel, but pubs are now part of the picture too as they begin to partner ‘aggregator’ brands such as Deliveroo, Just Eat, Hungry House and UberEATS. The aggregator brands are a big catalyst in the success of delivery.

Pubs, millennials and brekkie

Although British pubs only account for 4% of the delivery market, they increased their delivery visits by 59% in 2016 over the previous year.

Across the wider industry, at the end of 2016, delivery accounted for more than one in 20 (5.3%) of British OOH foodservice visits (versus 3.5% in 2008). Millennials (those aged 18 to 34) use aggregators heavily. The 18-to-24 age group especially has become a major source of demand accounting for 15% of aggregator delivery visits compared to 9% of total OOH visits.

Normally associated with evening meals, delivery has room to grow at lunch and even breakfast time. Currently, 65% of all aggregator deliveries are for dinner but breakfast currently accounts for just 5% of deliveries and lunch 11%, suggesting there is a clear market opportunity for expanding these occasions.

Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, said: “Ordering ready-to-eat food for delivery via an app or by phone is growing so fast that ‘eating in’ is becoming the new ‘eating out’. It goes beyond getting delivery of conventional ‘takeaway’ food because full-service restaurants are offering delivery too. Delivery obviously saves on the effort of visiting the foodservice outlet – ready-to-eat food comes to your door of course.

“But it’s now easier to duplicate at home the quality and enjoyment you always associated with eating out at a full-service restaurant.  Plus, you can effortlessly order a wide selection of takeaway food not just from one local restaurant but from several. Millennials are pushing the trend. It’s ultra convenient for them just to ‘tap an app’ to order.

NPD predicts that delivery will keep growing, particularly as aggregators will likely view the current low level of penetration at breakfast and lunch as irresistible market opportunities. It speculates that it won’t be long before consumers go beyond getting a basic take-away breakfast on the way to work and opt instead for a fancy breakfast delivered to the workplace.

“By the end of 2020, the value of the delivery channel could grow by nearly 50% to reach £5.3 billion. This is based on a likely faster rate of 10% growth in 2017 and the same amount in each of 2018, 2019 and 2020,” said Lavenant.

Delivering industry change

The growth of delivery through aggregators is shaking up the foodservice industry. The average bill for delivered food is nearly £1 lower than for a meal eaten on the premises. For YE December 2016, the average OOH on-premise bill was £6.9 but in the delivery channel it was £6.1.

For full-service operators, such as a local Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Italian or Mexican restaurant, the difference is bigger at £12 for a meal on the premises versus £6.9 for delivery. The reason for this is that delivery often works out cheaper because orders typically cut out beverages, starters, side orders or desserts.

This means that consumers choosing delivery are buying ‘lite’ versions of what they might order at a restaurant. The aggregators are effectively driving lower-value ‘virtual traffic’. Moreover, the ability to order from more than one restaurant is putting pressure on establishments accustomed to serving hitherto loyal customers in a small catchment area.

At the same time, struggling independents are playing on a more level playing field when competing with the big branded foodservice chains.

Lavenant added: “Even though delivery business can often mean less revenue for operators, the delivery channel is growing so quickly that any foodservice operator lacking a delivery strategy is taking a distinct business risk. Consumers want delivery and if they find a local outlet is not doing it they will go somewhere else. Meanwhile, any foodservice operator offering delivery must find ways to encourage consumers to increase the value of their orders. A good tactic would be to create special meal deals that apply only to deliveries.”

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