Min Read

The Future of Food Delivery: Top Trends To Watch

Discover the latest trends in food delivery, from drone deliveries to eco-friendly packaging and contactless delivery options.

trends in food delivery

A decade ago, it was unheard of to be able to order food delivery without making a phone call — and even then, options were pretty limited. 

But in recent years, there’s been a significant disruption in the food delivery market. Accessing dozens of restaurant choices is as easy as opening an app on your smart device.

Diners don’t just prefer delivery options; they demand them. And while it may seem the market is flooded with food delivery, the food delivery business is still in its early stages.

Several top trends have already emerged and continue to shape the food delivery space. Below, we’ll cover nine trends changing how restaurants and grocery stores serve their customers — and what customers expect.

1. Deliveries directly from restaurants

Many restaurants were eager to jump on the third-party delivery platform bandwagon. It was a profitable idea for some of them. Getting in front of a new customer base and expanding their brand made the change a success for many eateries. 

Others, however, became disenchanted for a couple of reasons, like the loss of control and the steep fees some delivery services charge businesses — as much as 30% of the order’s cost in some cases.

To combat this, some restaurants with the resources to do so have started offering their own direct in-house delivery. This way, they can retain a bit more control over the order once it’s dispatched and circumvent third-party fees. 

However, not every restaurant has the time or the resources to hire in-house drivers, or can hire enough to keep up with demand, which is where third-party delivery services come in clutch.

2. Grocery delivery is gaining more and more traction

Consumers wanting to avoid the grocery store and save time can order what they need and have it delivered to their address of choice.

The pandemic helped grocery delivery apps gain a foothold on the market, and it hasn’t eased yet. More customers are choosing the convenience of delivery, making the space grow fast. A recent report forecasts that the online grocery delivery services market will have a 19.43% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2022-2027.

Small, single-location supermarkets and large, national grocers can use food delivery platforms to serve their customers and create an additional revenue stream. The cost of getting started is minimal, so the risk of entry is small.

3. Drones and robots are now emerging as delivery tools

It may sound like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, but it’s reality, folks. Using drones for food delivery is arguably the coolest trend on this list.

Drone delivery offers restaurants several major advantages. They can decrease delivery times since they can drop multiple orders quickly (without the risk of getting stuck in a traffic jam). 

Using drones for delivery orders is also a cost-effective option. Instead of incurring the costs of in-house drivers, buying an equipped drone costs less long term.

4. Contactless delivery is still a priority

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the restaurant industry went into a tailspin. Many shut down and had to find other ways to serve their customers. Food delivery was a popular choice. However, there were still safety concerns about the handoff, which is how contactless delivery was born.

Contactless delivery happens when the driver delivers the package to the address without seeing the person it’s being delivered to. They may leave it by the door or on the porch and take a photo to prove it was delivered. Automation can either text or email the customer their order has been delivered.

Even now, many consumers prefer contactless delivery. Sometimes, you may be busy working from home, ill, or simply not dressed for the public. Some people are also immunocompromised and still want to avoid unnecessary contact.

Restaurants and grocery stores should continue offering contactless delivery to maintain customer satisfaction.

5. Sustainability and eco-friendly packaging are on the rise

Another of the most popular food industry trends stems from consumer demand. Millennials and Gen Z are particularly concerned with the environment and buying from earth-friendly brands.

There’s a lot of potential for accumulated waste from food delivery companies. Food packaging, bags, single-use silverware, napkins, and cups may all end up in landfills. With millions of orders being delivered monthly around the U.S., unrecycled packaging can be a wasteful strain on the environment.

The answer is a combination of using biodegradable options and cutting down on packaging when possible. For example, don’t automatically include single-use silverware unless the customer asks for it. Avoid double- or triple-bagging the order and consider combining the order into fewer packages instead.

Prioritizing sustainability in delivery order packaging will be a big food trend in the coming years. Many customers will opt for eco-friendly restaurants that make a concerted effort to reduce waste.

6. Growing popularity of meal kit delivery services

Today’s consumer wants good food, but while they enjoy the convenience of restaurant delivery, many prefer to prepare their own meals. Those looking for the convenience of delivery and the health consciousness of home cooking are turning to food delivery subscriptions: The global meal kit market is expected to grow 14.9% from 2022 to 2031.

The business model starts with tasty ingredients that make a delicious and often healthy meal. When a customer signs up for the service, they select how many kits they want to receive every week. The service then delivers the meals to their doorstep with everything they need for the meal prepackaged and ready to go.

The meal delivery service concept's popularity comes from several unique customer benefits:

  • Convenience: Instead of digging through the pantry trying to gather every ingredient and spice (and finding you’re missing at least one), food delivery kits contain everything you need to make a delicious meal at home.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Most meal subscriptions cost a bit more than going to the grocery store and shopping for each ingredient individually. However, they are far less expensive than going out or placing an online food delivery order with a restaurant.
  • Portion control: Meal delivery kits are pre-portioned and labeled with nutritional information. That way, health-conscious customers know exactly what an appropriate serving looks like and how many calories, fat, and carbs they’ve consumed during the meal.

7. Increased focus on food safety and hygiene in delivery operations

The pandemic dramatically increased the necessity of hygienic practices in the food service industry. Diners are still concerned about receiving fresh, safe food that’s germ-free.

One of the most prevalent ways of ensuring food safety is implementing automated processes for making and packaging it. Cleaning protocols, proper temperatures, and hand-washing requirements combine with protective equipment (like gloves and hair nets) to protect food from contamination.

Drivers are also tasked with keeping food safe to eat. Whether they’re employed by the restaurant or a third-party delivery service, delivery drivers should understand their responsibilities and take them seriously — not opening food containers and always maintaining good personal hygiene.

8. Expansion of international and cross-cultural cuisine options in delivery services

Customers like variety. Why should they be limited to a few options when so many are out there?

Third-party delivery platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub have flourished with American, Italian, Chinese, and Mexican food options. They will continue adding choices in other cultural areas to maintain their base and increase customer loyalty.

Marketing to cross-cultural restaurants is the next avenue for the food delivery industry to expand its offerings and keep delivery revenue strong. Customers will benefit from this trend by accessing a wider range of options.

9. Integration of augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in food delivery apps and services

Another advancement set to disrupt the restaurant industry is AR and VR. Using either or both, restaurants will eventually:

  • Use gamification to engage customers: Developing a game that increases customer interaction and engagement is one way AR can elevate the experience. For example, a simulator game can entertain patrons and keep the restaurant’s brand at the top of their minds. If the game allows players to compete with each other for discounts and coupons, it works even more effectively.
  • Create visually appealing prompts: Instead of one-dimensional food photos, dazzle hungry customers with a life-like, three-dimensional model of the menu items with AR.
  • Offer greater order customization options: During the ordering process, showing customers the ingredients that go into a sandwich or dish and giving them a way to add or remove it is another way AR can improve the customer experience and foster satisfaction.

Stay up to date on the latest delivery trends with Nash

Keeping up with relevant and timely food delivery trends is crucial for all types of restaurants. Knowing what tools and resources other restaurants currently use — and what may be available in the future — helps maintain your competitive edge and protect your market share.

Make the most of your in-app and online food ordering and delivery with Nash. Our user-friendly platform gives you more control over the entire process so that you can maintain a high-level customer experience. Use our professional drivers all the time or only when your in-house drivers are busy. Best of all? Nash helps you avoid paying third-party commission fees — so that extra money goes straight to your bottom line.

Get a custom demo now to kickstart or elevate your delivery services with Nash!

Take control of your delivery

Pick the best delivery provider for your restaurant, every time. Save on commission fees, deliver reliably, and keep customers coming back for more.

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Take control of your delivery

Pick the best delivery provider for your restaurant, every time. Save on commission fees, deliver reliably, and keep customers coming back for more.

Learn More

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