Food Tech – Disrupting the Food Industry

From restaurants to home delivery

Before the birth of convenient, quirky cookery sites like Hello Fresh and Gousto, food delivery services were in the realm of your elderly next door neighbour. Traditionally, meal times have been confined to the home. Restaurants are first thought to have sprung up in the early modern period, which is relatively recent on the timeline of human history. The first cafés as we know them opened in 17th century France. It seems fitting, therefore, that one of the most promising new food delivery startups is based in Paris. Frichti, which sends ready prepared meals to customers, just received £30 million in funding and is leading a new trend in food delivery. Our eating habits are changing, but how, and what are the implications for business?

Technology and food

It looks as if the food service has gone full circle, from eating at home to eating at restaurants to eating at home again. This time, though, food technology startups are disrupting our domestic mealtimes. FoodTech isn’t just about making more or new produce, it’s about distributing it, too. Using customer data, startups and companies can tailor their product offerings to reach a wider market. One of the reasons that food prep services like Frichti are standing out from the crowd is their commitment to healthy ingredients. Eating well has become a growing concern for both health and ethics related reasons. As well as this, people have more specific diets. Vegetarianism and veganism have seen a distinct increase, and food prep businesses can take advantage of this through personalisation. A number of companies are vying for the attention of hungry customers, including FoodCheri, Nestor and PopChef – and that’s just in France. Globally, food delivery has undergone a transformation. The Deliveroo cyclist is now a common sight in most cities, for example. More recently, JustEat has trialled robot food deliveries. This month, grocery giants Tesco completed their first ever robot delivery. Couple nutritious meals with efficient delivery times, and you have a recipe for success.

How are innovative food companies disrupting the industry?

The birth of ubiquitous food delivery services is disrupting our eating habits yet again. They are healthy as well as convenient, and have a clear market in both the very busy and the very lazy. The new breed of food delivery companies are setting a new standard for ready prepared meals, challenging takeaways, restaurants, and ingredients providers. They could even disrupt grocery stores, drawing away at least a proportion of sales. This disruptive potential is exactly why any business involved in food production or provision needs to be aware of what innovative food prep firms are doing. On the one hand, food delivery services are easy to use and incredibly convenient. However, on the other hand, they don’t come cheap. This sort of service is definitely not something that most people can afford on a daily basis. Perhaps advancements in lab grown food will change this, but it’s likely to be a long time coming. Additionally, of course, a considerable proportion of people will always prefer to cook meals for themselves. This is probably why sites like Hello Fresh are becoming increasingly popular, because they allow customers to take the credit. The marketing teams of Frichti and its competitors will have to keep this in mind – their meals have to be better than something a customer could cook for themselves.

The reasons why food delivery startups like Frichti are attracting customers are clear. They are convenient, efficient, nutritious, and their market includes just about everyone. However, not everyone is going to jump on board the meal delivery express. These companies are still notably more expensive than buying ingredients and cooking them yourself. Cost is likely to remain a key obstacle, until developments in FoodTech drive down production costs. They’ll also need to convince staunch home cooks that healthy meal deliveries are a decent alternative, and that won’t be easy. Even so – greasy takeaways, beware.

Will ingredients providers or ready prepared meal services be most successful? Could FoodTech science encourage the affordability of these companies? Which food establishments are most at threat from startups like Frichti? Share your thoughts.