Looking ahead towards food delivery shifts, trends & tips for 2022

From sustainability, to celebrity, to robots, drones, and boozeless-cheers, 2022 is sure to be an exciting year for restaurants like yours.

Believe it or not, it’s been almost two years since restaurants around the world transitioned to a majority delivery model 

The pandemic nudged restaurants around the world to perfect their delivery operations. When the world was forced to change how we do, well, everything, in early 2020, restaurants were in a mad dash to ensure that their operations and business model could survive in a time when customers were almost solely ordering in rather than dining in. In 2021, the operations began making sense. Restaurants like yours were managing multiple delivery apps with ease, decreasing errors and cancellations, and getting orders out the door and into customers' hands faster. In 2022, we suspect that your restaurant will be running a seamless delivery operation. And with all the kinks worked out, it’s time to find ways to increase your sales, orders and revenue. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though – let’s begin by finding ways to boost that bottomline based on what’s expected to boom and bottom out when it comes to food delivery in 2022. 

Free food delivery

Wait wait, we forgot to mention the most important thing! The Secret Recipe for this whole thing if you will. While the shifts & trends below are bound to get you inspired, the team at Otter will help you put some of these optimisations into action over the next month with inspiration, education & tips to help your restaurant succeed in delivery in 2022. Stay on the lookout for expert articles, video content and more from restaurant industry leaders across sustainability, finance, marketing & delivery. 

Top shifts in the food delivery industry that are likely to have an impact on your restaurant in 2022

1. The evolution towards increased sustainability and zero waste

Customers are becoming more environmentally conscious every year: 83% say that they wish restaurants would use more environmentally friendly practices, and as many as two-thirds of consumers are now prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly products. While shifting to more sustainable choices in terms of packaging may seem less financially advantageous, avoiding waste will help your restaurant increase sales and stand out from competitors in a big way. In 2022, think about switching to sustainable packaging and educating your customers on how to process it once it has been used. If you want to take it a step further, you can even encourage to-go diners to bring their own containers or launch a “take back” program for customers to return the packaging.

2. Decreased commissions via in-house delivery alternatives

COVID-19 prompted many restaurants to offer delivery for the first time, making platforms like Uber Eats and Just Eat a hot topic in recent years. We all know that being on multiple delivery apps has many benefits for your restaurant, from increasing your reach to boosting sales, and giving you a competitive advantage. But as ordering in becomes the norm amongst people worldwide, customers are more willing to place orders directly from their favorite restaurants. Why not take advantage of this trend and offer your own delivery service as well? In-house delivery will help you take control of your customer experience and skip some of the apps’ high fees. Plus, if you have a solution like Otter you can control all your online orders from one single screen. Take a look at all our integrations (including delivery apps and direct to consumer services) here.

3. Modernised catering to fit a hybrid work model

After getting a taste of working from home during the pandemic, we can agree that flexibility in the workspace is here to stay. So what does this mean for your restaurant? Catering has been picking up in new ways. Think about offering individually packaged meals instead of large trays of shared food for people returning to the office. This is also a great option for employees working from home, as more companies are looking for alternatives to create team experiences at a distance.

4. Digital dining and how robots could help solve the labor shortage

We know that even in 2022 the idea of robots may sound crazy, but step by step digitalisation has been taking restaurants by storm. From QR codes to custom apps to food lockers, the "restaurant of the future" arrived ahead of schedule due to the pandemic. And yes, that also includes robots. Devices that were considered futuristic 10 years ago are now the new normal (think about self-service kiosks, for example). In 2022, the goal is to develop machines that can naturally interact with people. We're already seeing this takeover with payments, food prep and even serving (yes, there are robots that can bring orders to your table!). Expect this, plus other digital innovations, to continue growing in 2022.

5. Drone delivery to get food to your customers faster

Let's close the trend list with a bang: drones will be a big deal in the delivery world this coming year. We're still far from seeing them become the main form of delivery, but a lot of companies have experimented with the idea in the last couple of years. We know it might sound far-fetched, but considering that drones can deliver food faster and cheaper than traditional vehicles, expect even more players to start investing in this idea. Take a look at this Forbes article about Manna, an Irish company doing thousands of drone flights a day to deliver for local businesses at a fraction of the cost.

Drone food delivery

What your customers may be looking for when it comes to snacks, drinks, fast food and more in 2022

We present to you the random, cool food trends we can expect to see in 2022.

  • Popcorn

When we think about movie snacks, the first thing that comes to mind is popcorn. As Covid forced movie theaters to close for over a year, ready to eat popcorn made Netflix feel a little bit more like the real thing. Popcorn sales grew an impressive 9% this year and are expected to continue apace in 2022. The sudden increase in streaming over the past two years motivated AMC, the largest popcorn provider in the U.S,  to  branch out beyond the theater and bring its delicious freshly popped popcorn into small kiosks, counters and stores, as well as delivery. The new demand also inspired other businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate new flavors and products like chocolate mint, hibiscus and even alcohol infused gourmet popcorn. But we’re not letting new flavours steal the show either -- the ready to eat popcorn/caramel corn category is expected to surpass $1.6B this year. 

  • Celebrity fast food collaborations

Celebrity collaborations have been a popular concept across multiple industries for years, and from the start, fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Dunkin have been known for their exciting endorsements. These endorsements go all the way back to 1992 when the McJordan was released, and in 2020, McDonald’s revived their history in the celebrity collaboration space with four collaborations in just 12 months.  First came the Travis Scott meal , then the J Balvin meal, followed by the BTS meal, and finally the Saweetie Meal. More recently, Megan Thee Stallion debuted her signature “hottie sauce” at Popeyes, and we’re all looking forward to the Christmas queen herself, Mariah Carey’s, collaboration with McDonald’s this holiday season. These partnerships may be a part of the secret sauce to increasing sales in 2022. An influential endorsement helps these companies connect with audiences who may not have considered their brand “cool” by latching on to a celebrity’s longstanding relationship with their fans. 

The Travis Scott meal saw an almost 5% increase in sales during the three months of the partnership with fans even stealing posters and selling their McDonald’s receipts on Ebay. This is a trend to consider even whether or not your marketing budget is big. For smaller restaurants, you may consider collaborating with local influencers and allowing them to add some touches of their personality into your menu so you can increase engagement, excitement, and orders. 

J Balvin Meal
  • More boozeless cocktails

The consumption of non-alcoholic cocktails continues to rise as more booze-free cocktails are hitting the shelves. People are being mindful of what they put in their body and paying more attention to their alcohol intake. Whole Foods saw record growth in their stores this year in the the dialed-down spirits category. Many new businesses are crafting premium, sophisticated drinks to cater to the non-drinker consumer. Drink Dry, a non-alcoholic product company that sells interesting healthy versions of beer, wine, and spirits continues to have their beverages fly off the shelves as soon as they hit the store. Boozeles cocktails afterall are the perfect way to shake things up to celebrate a special occasion or wine down after a long day of work. 

  • Environmentally friendly food

The way we view and produce food is one of the most important things we can do to help the environment. With climate change on the rise, the growing concern for how the food industry produces their supply shows how industry trends in regards to food and beverages have been skewing towards environmentally friendly practices. Locally grown vegetables, oats and pulses are known to be low environmentally taxing products but other products like meat production need an overwhelming amount of energy and resources to be produced, a reason why meatless products have taken the market by storm. As technology gets better and production scales, we’ll  see more of these alternative products for sale in the coming year. There are also many misconceptions when it comes to food sustainability. What might be better for you, might not be better for the environment. Crops that have a heavy environmental impact are also being reconsidered, like coffee and chocolate. Beanless coffee is already being sold, so anything considered harmful for the environment is being tested for innovation. Many companies and organisations are trying to solve these challenges and we will be seeing the results of those considerations in the coming year, if not the following.

Feeling ready to take advantage of these trends to take your business to the next level in 2022?

Good! From sustainability, to celebrity, to robots, drones, and boozeless-cheers, 2022 is sure to be an exciting year for restaurants like yours. While the restaurant industry evolves quickly & constantly, you don’t have to go it alone. The team at Otter is here to help you turn these trends into full tables, and increased tickets at restaurants like yours. 

Want the Secret Recipe to succeeding in delivery in 2022?

Check our social channels and blog over the next two weeks to learn how you can take advantage of some of these trends, increase your orders, and boost your bottomline.

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