Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: Canada
by David Klemt
Patrons, analysts and experts have spoken: delivery and takeout will remain standards in the new era of hospitality.
Analysts and experts have spoken with data, and consumers have spoken with their dollars.
But there’s another consequential voice that matters when it comes to delivery: that of the operator.
There’s no denying that the operator is shoved aside in the third-party delivery relationship. At the very least, that’s the overwhelming perception. Once an operator signs on with such a service, their guest data becomes the delivery company’s data.
Whatever company owns the data owns the guest, their journey and engagement, and the targeted marketing efforts. That means a restaurant or bar’s guests receive offers and promotions for their competitors.
In short, third-party delivery platforms disrupt the guest journey.
However, there are some data the third-party delivery services do share. As we saw midway through 2020, for example, Uber Eats and Grubhub released the top orders and other useful information in publicly available reports. Some of the services also release end-of-year or year-in-review reports, as SkipTheDishes did for Canada.
Most of these reports are laser-focused on the United States. That’s logical given the number of bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses to which Grubhub, Uber Eats, Postmates, Instacart, Seamless and other services have access.
SkipTheDishes, for the Americans reading this, is the Grubhub of Canada. For the Canadians reading, below are SkipTheDishes’ data regarding top orders, cuisine, and demographics in 2020:
- Top Cuisines: Chinese, Italian, American/Canadian
- Top Orders (General): Asian dishes, pizza, burgers
- Top Orders by Item: Chicken sandwiches (also the top item in 2020 in the US), burgers, and French fries (mid-year data)
- Top Vegan Provinces: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia
- Top Organic Provinces: British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta
- Top Gluten-free Provinces: Manitoba, Alberta, The Maritimes
- Top Dairy-free Provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, The Maritimes
- Top Kosher Provinces: Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan
- Top Dayparts: 5:00 PM was the most popular order time, and late afternoon (3:00-4:00 PM) and weekdays saw lifts. Late-night ordering (9:00 PM and beyond) slowed. (Mid-year data.)
- Top Pre-order Daypart: 5:00 PM. More Canadians got into the habit of pre-ordering their dinners. (Mid-year data.)
- Fastest-growing Segment by Age Group: 65+
- Most Revealing Datum: 81% of customers ordered from restaurants they’d never visited in person.
Plant-based items and foods recognized for boosting a person’s immune system are expected to be popular. The pandemic has given many consumers a reason to reevaluate what they’re putting into their bodies. All three sources predict people will be interested in and order plant-based foods and focus on health and wellness.
Both Food Network Canada and Chatelaine predicted chickpeas—an inexpensive, versatile and plant-based protein source—will be among the top food items sought out by restaurant guests (in-person) and customers (takeout, delivery). Most operators should be able to adapt and get creative to add chickpea-based items to their menus. The two sources also predicted that snacking will replace meals (at least occasionally), so snackable items and sides may take off this year.
Food Network Canada pointed to sauerkraut as an example of a health and wellness food item that may see a boost in popularity and demand due to its probiotic and gut health properties. The source also predicted that coffee and coffee-based F&B items will get a lift in 2021.
Restaurants Canada predicted that comfort food, popular throughout 2020, will remain in high demand. However, 2021 will bring in an interest in elevated riffs on comfort food classics. Citing specific examples, Restaurants Canada suggested Pad Thai French fries and Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese. The Canadian food industry association predicted that interest in and support of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) cuisine, flavors and businesses will continue through 2021.
All three sources listed plant jerky as food item to watch in 2021.
What else should be in store for this year? Operators embracing first-party or so-called “last-mile” delivery to grab their share of the orders of this year’s trendy food items. Platforms such as Lunchbox, Olo, ChowNow can provide operators with the ability to own delivery and therefore the entire guest journey in the new era of hospitality. It’s likely an operator’s current POS can be updated to “unlock” in-house delivery, which would then need to be supported by a delivery menu, delivery supplies, and staff training.
For more information about first-party and last-mile delivery, please listen to Bar Hacks episode 13 with “Rev” Ciancio, an advocate of keeping delivery and data in-house.