UK foodservice’s meteoric online rise set to continue

Ryan Whittaker, consumer analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData, offers his view on the outlook for the UK foodservice industry in 2021
Ryan Whittaker from GlobalData, offers his view on the outlook for the UK foodservice industry in 2021

We have just learned that Just Eat’s UK orders in 2021 have already increased by 35% over 2020.

Online aggregators like Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are in an extremely strong position at the start of this year and can expect this growth to continue throughout the year. According to GlobalData’s latest 2021 Q1 consumer survey, a quarter (24%) of Brits said that they were ordering takeaways or deliveries more frequently than before, in addition to the 27% who said they were continuing to order.

GlobalData also found that one-in-10 consumers reported that they ordered food or drink delivery a few times a week, and a further one-in-10 make delivery orders daily. The UK consumer is unlikely to give up the convenience of the Covid-era movement towards e-commerce, even as the vaccine situation develops and the country starts to open up.

The UK has been hit hard by coronavirus variants, more so than many of its neighbours, and this has forced longer and more stringent lockdowns as a result. As the UK’s vaccination programme continues, we can expect a complex mixture of a rush to return to restaurants when they reopen and the continuation of ordering more deliveries to the home.

A majority (56%) of UK consumers describe themselves as extremely or quite concerned when it comes to eating out at restaurants because of the Covid-19 risk, with baby boomers reporting the highest levels of extreme concern.

It’s likely that this wealthy and retiring group will be more reluctant to return, being a riskier group for infection. Millennials are also more likely to embrace online ordering.

For 2021, GlobalData expects the online channel to continue to grow in importance for foodservice.