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How global food delivery is changing during pandemic

Published April 7, 2020

With most countries facing varying levels of quarantine or physical distancing, many restaurants and fast food chains have had to change the way they get food to customers. For some, it’s focusing on takeout and curbside. For others, it’s offering delivery—whether using their own drivers or third-party delivery services. For many, it’s been both.  

But, as the pandemic has continued, restaurants are seeing more value in creating their own delivery service—rather than using a third party—for 100 percent of the profits and to take control of the customer experience.

And the industry is continuing to find new and innovative ways to provide and promote their services while also focusing on the safety and wellbeing of customers and employees. 

NCR VOYIX has been closely following these global developments. And we’ll continue to share what we’re seeing as food operations, fulfillment and delivery evolve. 


Asia Pacific

In Asia, many fast food restaurants are focusing on contactless delivery. Brands are taking to multiple channels to tell customers how their individual processes work, emphasizing their hygiene practices for food preparation, food handling and delivery.  

Those offering contactless delivery typically provide an option to select this during the online or mobile ordering process, with orders then delivered to the customer’s doorstep. In Malaysia, for example, foodpanda is just one provider offering contactless delivery service to their customers. 

Restaurants introducing contactless delivery are strongly encouraging customers to use online payments; this helps ensure drivers and customers don’t need to meet face-to-face to exchange cash. 

Another emerging trend sees many Asian companies promoting social responsibility by providing free meals to those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. For example, Dicos in China sent out free meals to local hospitals, medical personnel and police. Similarly, staff from Lao Xiang Ji have also been delivering free meals to people in need in Wuhan while following strict hygiene measures. 

In Beijing and Guangdong, workers braved the wind and snow to provide free meals to front line medical staff, while the Real Kung Fu chain used gift cards and prizes to promote their online business. 

Finally, in an interesting example of brand extension, Japanese Gyudon restaurant chain Yoshinoya is offering contactless delivery of a ‘home kitchen’ series of freeze-sealed meals that families can cook at home. And Asia has over 50 percent of the global online delivery services market share and the region is expected to add approximately 200 million new customers by 2024. 

Central & South America

Most Latin American countries have ordered the shutdown of restaurants, cafes and bars. Delivery is permitted—but following an initial surge in volume, delivery orders have been declining, possibly due to consumers looking to save money and having more time to cook. Dark kitchens, based entirely on a delivery business model with no dine-in operations, are also experiencing a downturn in orders. 

In the face of this, we're seeing organizations take measures to support the industry and community.  For example, iFood, the largest marketplace for food delivery and takeout in the region, has just launched a fund to support restaurants and couriers through the crisis.  This includes: 

  • Funding to make anticipated revenue available  
  • Free coupons to customers ordering food from small, local restaurants 
  • Loans for restaurants and couriers 

In Brazil, some are turning to crowdsourcing. For example, Cama de Gato, FFFront and Scar, three bars in Brazil, raised money from customers to help continue paying salaries, rents and other expenses during the shutdown. After the shutdown, customers can use the credit to buy drinks and food. 

One of NCR VOYIX’s partners, Goomer, is offering a delivery chatbot for free. Goomer provides self-ordering kiosks for bars and restaurants integrated with Aloha and Colibri—and they created the chatbot app for use during the shutdown.




Brazil’s Galunion, the largest restaurant consulting group in the country, is also supporting the industry by helping restaurants implement a delivery operation during the shutdown for free. 




In Europe, many restaurants are focusing on delivery either by teaming up with one of the major food delivery platforms - such as Lieferando (part of, the online food delivery marketplace operating in Europe and Israel), Delivery Hero and Deliveroo - or reallocating their own staff to begin making deliveries themselves. Here are a few examples. 

In the UK, as part of the package of measures developed to support UK businesses through this time, the government has relaxed rules requiring restaurants to apply for planning permission if they want to provide delivery or drive-thru service. 

In response, many food outlets, from small independents to larger chains, have started offering deliveries and/or take-away to stay afloat while providing a valuable service for those in isolation at home. They’re using social media to promote these services and ask for support from their local communities, as well as to reassure customers of any enhanced hygiene protocols they’re following. 

Some are taking this beyond just offering their own products—some are working with others in their communities to provide extended offerings. For example, one local café in Scotland put together a Mother’s Day package combining afternoon tea items from their menu with flower deliveries from the local florist.  

Food delivery companies Deliveroo and Uber Eats have been in discussions with the UK government about food and care packages for the elderly. In some locations, they're extending their service by offering some kitchen and household products to be delivered along with food orders. Like many, they’re also offering contactless drop-off delivery options, too.

Spain is seeing similar food delivery trends. But some Spanish restaurants are also taking part in enhanced social responsibility activities such as providing support for front line staff and essential workers, and also for households with children. These include everything from sharing kid-friendly recipes to do with children during quarantine to offering ‘school menus’ for children. 

Cook-at-home meal kit providers are following suit. Companies like Hello Fresh, headquartered in Europe, and The Mindful Chef are communicating extensively with their customers about their food safety protocols. They’re also using their social media channels to provide online cooking shows, wellbeing tips for working from home and other helpful information. 

Even more specialized segments of the meal kit industry, such as personalized meal plans primarily targeted at top athletes, may start to see increasing levels of adoption from wider audiences. 


Middle East

In the Middle East, food delivery is also becoming even more popular. Indeed, the food delivery application Talabat has announced it will waive delivery fees for its users. “We want to help ensure business continuity for our restaurant partners’ business. By leveraging our technology, we’re encouraging our customers to order from nearby restaurant partners who may be seeing dine-in rates dropping due to uncertainty around COVID-19,” said Talabat CEO Tomaso Rodriguez.  

As in Europe, restaurants across the Middle East have been hit hard by mandatory closures and physical distancing. In Bahrain, hotels are currently allowed to stay open if their restaurants are closed. In-room dining or delivery is allowed.  


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