Online food delivery is a mega-trend that looks set to grow tenfold over the next decade. We think it's possible that by 2030 most meals now cooked at home will instead be ordered online and delivered from restaurants or central kitchens. As we look to a future where consumers can tap a button and a drone delivers them a robot-cooked meal, we ask: Is the kitchen dead?
Internet business models have already disrupted a host of industries, and are doing the same in food services. In a world of increasingly time-starved consumers, online food delivery has become a mega-trend. What started as phone orders being placed at the local takeaway has shifted to a multitude of apps, and is now growing exponentially with the emergence of a number of online platforms.
Online food ordering combines on-demand living and the sharing economy in three key ways.
- First, shared or 'dark' kitchens can create a host of different cuisines, cutting the cost of professionally prepared food, with robotics and AI offering the potential to reduce costs even further.
- Second, increased delivery capacity through low-cost labour and delivery drones could halve the unit cost of delivering meals.
- The third key ingredient is demographics. Time-starved Millennials are three times more likely to “order in” than their parents. As this generation matures, home cooking could fade away.
We think it's possible that by 2030 most meals currently cooked at home will instead be ordered online and delivered from restaurants or central kitchens.
Driven by these three trends – lower production costs, improved logistics and strong demographics – we estimate the global online food ordering market could grow more than tenfold over the next decade or so, to $365bn by 2030 from $35bn today. The ramifications could be substantial. We see a bright future for food delivery platforms, and positives for the restaurant sector as delivery adds a further growth engine. There could also be an impact on property markets, with increased demand for edge-of-town industrial units, plus a positive environmental and sustainability angle as well, given the potential to cut food waste and packaging. We see a potentially adverse impact on some food retailers and food producers.