Impact of Food Delivery Apps on Eating Habits

Couple cooking in their kitchen

This is the third part of my series on the impact of Food Delivery Apps on the culture of dining. In the first part, I explored the different segments of the ‘Eating Out‘ population while in the second I looked at which of these segments might switch over to food delivery and ‘eating in’.

In this post, I wish to explore some of the changes / consequences if the culture of ‘ordering in’ becomes prevalent.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are segments (and instances) when people are anyway in the mindset of eating out. For such use cases, food delivery apps are a substitute for eating at a restaurant. One can argue that, in such cases, there are no real winners and losers as it’s a matter of substitution. I haven’t looked at the economics, but I would assume that restaurants wouldn’t care too much if they are serving the customer within their premises or outside. There are other issues that restaurants might have with this arrangement, but we will come to that later.

I also mentioned in the same post that the ecosystem of Food Delivery Apps is leading to the rise of the ‘Occasional Indulgers’ segment. These are users who would ordinarily not have considered eating out, but do so occasionally due to the convenience (and discounts) now being provided by such businesses. This is clearly incremental sales to the restaurant and / or food delivery app.

Another ‘incremental revenue stream’ comes from all the rest of the segments who would indulge in ‘dining in’ occasionally.

So what are my concerns with this model?

I will start with the health and sustainability angles. I guess no one will argue that cooking and eating in is significantly healthier than eating out. My concern is that if the culture of ‘ordering in’ becomes ubiquitous, then people would stop cooking and eating healthy. From my personal experience, I first learnt to cook while living with friends in the early phase of my professional career. But I only really cooking regularly after marriage and discovered that I quite like it. It would be a shame if less and less people discover the joys of cooking and rely on food deliveries most of the times.

The second issue is with sustainability. Again, there can be no dispute that ordering in is leading to a significant increase in the use of plastics, including single-use plastic.

The third concern is the potential impact on restaurants, especially now that more of the food delivery companies are building their own ‘cloud kitchens’. If more and more consumers are indifferent to which restaurant they are ordering their food from, then it’s a fair possibility that businesses of restaurants would be impacted, leading to potential closures as well. Which would be a shame for other restaurant goers, for whom eating out is as much about the whole experience as it is about the food.

This phenomenon is still fairly recent. It will be very interesting to see how eating habits are changing due to this industry. Only time will tell!

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