Tech-away

Food to-go represented the only alternative to eating out during months of lockdown. Here is how consumers behaved, with the support of digital technology that is increasingly more advanced.

During the first part of 2020, consumers around the world were forced to spend a lot of time at home.
Along with lines outside of supermarkets that kept getting longer and longer, and the delivery of groceries ordered online being delayed week after week, many chose to experience the convenience of a take-away meal during lockdown.
According to Google Trends, the statistics tool that reveals the keywords typed into Google, during March and May the searches that contained terms such as “delivery,” “home food delivery,” “takeaway” and “to takeaway” reached 26.6 million on a global level, with an increase of almost 300% compared to the same period in 2019.

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But which countries ordered more often food to be eaten at home? And which types of food did they order?
Pizza topped the international charts and it was the most sought-after food in 55 of the 81 countries for which data were made available. Belarus carried out the most searches per capita for “pizza delivery,” followed by Russia and Ukraine.
Chinese food ranked second among the most popular food, topping the charts in 11 countries including United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and, of course, China.
Sushi took third place, Japan’s culinary symbol of excellence, with Denmark recording the highest number of requests per capita. Considering that raw, pickled and smoked fish have been the cornerstones of the Danish diet since the Viking era, the popularity of sushi in this country is understandable.

HAMBURGERS AT FULL THROTTLE

Given their ubiquity around the world, there is no surprise that fast food giants have dominated searches based on the company’s brand.
The American giant of hamburgers appears on the top of the list of requests in forty-one countries. The highest concentration of searches took place in Europe, with 26 of the 30 nations in the Old Continent eager to enjoy the world’s most famous “big” hamburger. Takeaway for Kentucky’s famous chicken was also in high demand, topping the search rankings in 23 countries, including Malaysia, United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa.

DIGITAL TRENDS

Take-away services has changed profoundly in recent years. Up until not long ago, you only had a few options to choose from (pizza, Chinese food, some ethnic dishes). To place your order, you had to call the establishment and speak with an employee who, after having taking note of the request, organized
the delivery. Today, the offer has expanded considerably. It is possible to have dishes chosen off a restaurant’s menu delivered directly to your doorstop, as well as cakes to celebrate an anniversary or gelato creations by artisanal maestros. Ordering and paying take less than two minutes. All you have to do is download an app onto your phone and type your preferences. However, let’s not forget that technology is in constant evolution and the takeaway world is changing quickly. In 2015, an important American chain developed a platform which allowed for ordering its specialties by tweeting the relative “pizza emoji.” Today, many companies are developing new creative methods using emerging technologies such as smart TVs, smart watches and Alexa. And in the not so distant future, we could see delivery entrusted to… drones!

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ABSOLUTELY TO SHARE

Like it or not, the Instagram generation has seamlessly integrated into the social universe, and it seems intent on staying for a while. Experiential images of all kinds are shared between profiles, and in order to communicate an experience, people often post a picture of the food they are about to enjoy, reinforcing
that food is often savoured first with your eyes and then with your palate.
Presentation and branding are key. If you can first satisfy the eye, success is then assured: the customers will do the rest, sharing and tagging pictures of the
culinary masterpieces on Instagram. But be careful not to make mistakes, otherwise it can be posted on Reddit and it will suffer attacks from internet trolls.

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AN ALL-ITALIAN OFFER

Food delivery services had a significant boost in Italy, and it proved to be crucial not only for establishments that were forced to close but also for the people
working from home. The most requested remained pizza, in tune with the rest of the world, followed by hamburger, sushi, chicken and Italian cuisine. Gelato placed fifth. For deliveries, establishments that were already equipped with refrigerated vehicles before the lockdown period only had to focus their attention on this service. Many others however were not equipped and had to rely on services specialized in home delivery, aware of the importance of taking advantage of this emerging channel’s potential, even after the emergency period.
Presentation has always played a key role in the world of gelato and semifreddo. And for the joy of Instagram fans and beyond, the artisan professionals concentrate a lot on the aesthetics of their offer, being that it is a determining factor that pushes the consumer to purchase. A sprinkle of nuts and coconut flakes, with glazes, coloured food powders, sprays and liquids increasingly embellish traditional flavours and the most sought-after flavours. In the semifreddo world, the single-portion desserts are appreciated, created in unique forms to stimulate the eyes before the palate.
For takeaway options, the classic Styrofoam containers are now joined with products in various materials, including glass which, thanks to its transparency, displays the freshness of artisanal delicacies. And to conclude a candlelight dinner, there is nothing better than gelato sushi, small single portion desserts that stimulate the eyes and satisfy the most demanding palates.

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