What’s trending now?
South Africa has, for years, been ahead of the United States when it comes to food delivery. Sure, you could get your pizza and your Chinese takeaway delivered in the US, but that was about it. They didn’t have Mr. Delivery or Woolworths home delivery.
That’s all changing. And, the Americans are taking this trend by storm. It’s not just groceries heading to the homes along with televisions and anything else you can find on Amazon. New foodie subscriptions tackle more than just the groceries needed for your weekly meals. Services are rolling out menu plans including specialised diets that arrive with full preparation instructions and everything you need to make every meal. And, in some areas, these services are pulling produce from the local farmers. You’ll even find services that offer totally fresh – never frozen – food deliveries. And this trend could shape the future of American food.
Why it’s important?
At base level, this trend is almost everything Jamie Oliver dreamed of when he launched his Food Revolution. For the uninitiated, his plan was to demonstrate that cooking delicious meals is neither time-consuming nor expensive. With just a few simple recipes, his original goal was to get people off the corner shop curries and fried fishy takeaways – at least most of the time.
And, the idea, of having a complete meal plan delivered with everything you need to create those recipes, expounds Jamie’s idea. It’s even more accessible to eat freshly prepared meals – no matter how lazy you might be in the kitchen.
In the US, food delivery started with the big boys, Amazon and Google in headquarter cities presumably so they could monitor development. But, these aren’t the guys winning in the service or subscription categories. Instead, it’s the smaller startups that have taken food delivery and personalised it that are making a difference in the Jamie Oliver, sustainable eating and local produce development.
Companies like GW Bites, which delivers home cooked meals to the students of George Washington University, are going to do the life-changing associated with this trend. Not only are the meals prepared by GW students and competitively priced too, they’re also keeping university students out of the fast food joints.
What’s the butterfly effect?
That’s where fresh food delivery or menu-centric subscriptions services can hit home. Although hardly an American-only phenomenon, the US is still the home of fast food and TV (meaning microwaveable) dinners. It’s the convenience factor that’s led to an entire generation of Americans turning to the nearest drive-through for food when laziness or time works against them.
It’s not as though McDonald’s should feel threatened by a company like Blue Apron that sends recipes and ingredients for chef-developed meals. But, as it becomes commonplace for fresh food to be delivered, you can expect the next generation to think differently about their food.
And, you can expect them to think differently about Amazon too. This giant doesn’t have much to fear, but their forays into food delivery have exposed a few flaws. Most people know what milk and bread costs and the price of a steak too. They don’t know how much a hairbrush costs. Amazon has some screwy pricing structures, and while they’re competitive on top-selling products, they don’t carry the lowest prices across the board. It’s always been out there; it’s just become obvious with their grocery deliveries. That and it seems like connecting with the farmers is never going to form part of their agenda. As startups become more local – and more clever – Amazon will have to bow out of the market or rethink their food strategy.
The big boys have been hard at work on their food delivery. That’s Amazon Fresh, Instacart and Walmart to Go. But the pioneers really are the smaller startups such Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh that will be realising the Jamie Oliver dream of getting people back into the kitchen.
The Global Hotspots
South Africa has always been ahead of the United States on food delivery, but the Americans are taking this trend to the next level. We can expect to see similar outfits in every major global city fairly soon (which can only be a benefit in busy, expansive cities like Paris and Tokyo). But, if South African startups want the edge, they’ll need to head out to the Free State to chat with the local farmers before Woolies does.
By: Katie Schenk
About Katie Schenk
Katie is South African by choice, but she’s proud of being American too. She’s a writer, a producer, and a momma. If she can shut off – she sleeps. Her interests include advertising, home economics, entrepreneurial processes, South African idiosyncrasies, and rugby. (Really). She’s also a fan of Tudor history – but there’s nothing trendy (or trending) in that.
Image credit: unsplash.com/ Katie Schenk