Restaurant delivery is a booming industry. Since the introduction of store-to-door services like DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and others, food delivery demand has skyrocketed. People are choosing to dine out… while eating in.
According to 2019 compiled statistics, 26% of consumers order delivery at least once a week. That number is as high as 40% for younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z. Over a third of people say they’re more than willing to pay a premium for food delivery instead of going out to eat. And, the most telling figure: the food delivery market faces a $365B valuation by 2030 if it keeps growing at this rate.
As delivery rates grow, restaurants face a unique challenge. When people dine in, food has a short trip from the kitchen to their table. When they order delivery, that hot, fresh meal needs to stay hot and fresh from the kitchen all the way to a diner’s home.
How do you provide the same caliber of food to delivery customers that they’d get dining in? The secret is controlling one singular variable: Temperature.
Temperature has everything to do with delivery
Imagine ordering gourmet mac-n-cheese at a restaurant and getting a lukewarm bowl of half-melted cheese and noodles. You’d send it back to the kitchen! You want mac-n-cheese that’s gooey, stringy, hot and flavourful. Thankfully, at a restaurant, that mac-n-cheese will go from boiling pot, to bowl, to your table in a matter of seconds. Most times, you’ll have to wait a few seconds for it to cool off!
The problem with food delivery is that temperature control becomes a much bigger factor. Instead of a few seconds from chef to customer, you might have as many as 30-45 minutes in between, depending on the delivery trip. Your mac-n-cheese might start off steamy, yet arrive lukewarm. Worse still, you can’t send it back—delivery isn’t a two-way street!
This example is bigger than mac-n-cheese. It extends to every type of prepared food, from lo mein to chicken wings, burgers to burritos and beyond. If it’s not hot when it arrives, it’s just not going to taste as good. And, it only takes one cold burger or a lukewarm rack of ribs to dissuade someone from ordering delivery from a restaurant in the future.
How to control the most important delivery variable
So how can your favourite restaurants continue to serve up delicious food in spite of the logistical challenges that delivery presents? Simple: control the temperature. The best part is, it doesn’t take a big investment.
The answer rests with insulated delivery bags. In an age of high-tech delivery apps and logistical services, insulated delivery bags are a low-tech, simple solution to keeping food at-temperature throughout the delivery process. They’re the smartest investment a restaurant can make as they look for ways to satisfy the growing demand for food delivery.
Let’s look at the mac-n-cheese example again. Say it’s baked mac-n-cheese, which comes out of the oven after 30-45 minutes at a sizzling 365 degrees. Now, let’s say it loses 20 degrees every minute it’s left to cool. It’ll stop cooling once it reaches the air temperature around it—say, 65 degrees. By that math, you’ve got 15 minutes to eat it before it’s room temperature. If delivery takes more than 15 minutes, your mac-n-cheese is already a disappointment!
Insulated delivery bags work by slowing the rate of heat loss, keeping food warmer for longer. Inside an insulated delivery bag, your mac-n-cheese might only cool five degrees every minute, since the insulation traps all that heat within the bag itself. Now, it’ll take 60 minutes for your food to reach room temperature—meaning there’s plenty of time for delivery! And the thing is, high-quality products often have even better heat retention capabilities. For example, they might slow heat loss to two degrees per minute, keeping food hot and fresh for more than two full hours!
Again, this extends to every kind of prepared food. Being able to deliver fresh-cooked chicken wings, a still steaming pizza or aromatic tacos is a big win for restaurants trying to keep pace with delivery demand.
The best part? It works in reverse, too. Ordering ice cream or custard? Insulated delivery bags help keep these items from becoming warm!
Restaurants can use delivery to their advantage
As restaurants start to factor delivery time into their services, many will likely find ways to use it to their advantage.
Say you’re someone who loves a good steak—medium doneness, with a nice crisp on the outside. Cooking a steak to the right level of doneness is a somewhat precise method—the longer you leave it on the cooktop, the more done it’s going to be. But what most people don’t realise is that a steak will continue to cook when you take it off of direct heat. A chef might flash flame your steak to give it that charred crisp you like, then take it off the grill a few minutes earlier and package it into an insulated delivery bag to let it rest longer. The result? The medium doneness you want, still hot and ready to eat by the time you dig in.
Delivery time is a positive for other foods, too. Take a burger, for example. A cook will put all the ingredients atop your hot burger patty and wrap it to go, sticking it in an insulated bag. When you unwrap your burger, everything will have had a chance to mingle at-temperature, giving you robust flavour with every bite.
The future of food delivery is exciting
People aren’t going to stop ordering food anytime soon. In fact, we’re set to see even more delivery in the future. The only way restaurants can ensure their at-home customers stay as happy as their dine-in patrons is to deliver food that’s just as good.
Controlling temperature is the key. It’s the difference between biting into a hot, fresh burger or a gooey bowl of mac-n-cheese, instead of something that’s lukewarm or lack luster. And, funny enough, all it takes for restaurants to ensure a good experience is something as simple as an insulated delivery bag.