Industry News

2021 Food Trends Around the Globe and How They’ll Impact 2022

As we begin preparing for 2022, let’s take a look at the insights, trends, and innovations that impacted the restaurant industry on a country by country level throughout the course of 2021.
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As a global company with restaurant partners from Brazil to Beijing and everywhere in between, the team at Otter makes it a priority to keep up with food trends and innovation year round.

As we begin preparing for 2022, let’s take a look at the insights, trends, and innovations that impacted the restaurant industry on a country by country level throughout the course of 2021. But before we dig into a country by country analysis, check out this short video on some global insights that are sure to have an impact on food delivery in 2022.

Grocery, alcohol, comfort food and more reigned supreme in the United States in 2021

Since the pandemic, food delivery has become a staple in households across the United States. Despite restaurant re-openings, online delivery continues to increase to accommodate Americans’ busy & fast-paced lives. In fact, BusinessWire’s global food delivery market is even expected to hit the $154.34 billion mark in 2023. Let’s take a look back on the key trends of 2021 to help you strategize for your restaurant’s delivery business in 2022:

The demand for grocery, convenience & alcohol delivery has become a norm for Americans:
  • According to Uber Eats Cravings Report, Groceries and alcohol have become some of the most popular delivery requests in 2021. Americans ordered everything from bananas (the top selling grocery item in the United States) to giant margaritas and White Claw variety packs. For practical purchases like Tylenol and toiletries, customers ordered from convenience stores like 7-Eleven.
  • All three major delivery platforms boasted an increase in alcohol deliveries in 2021, with Grubhub reporting margarita as the top ordered alcohol, 240% more popular than last year.
  • The top convenience orders for this year include: 2% milk (+190%), toilet paper (+190%), instant ramen (+143%), paper towels (+130%), and pepperoni Pizza Rolls (+103%).
Climate change is top-of-mind for your customers, and they’re pushing for sustainability and environmentally friendly food:
  • Customers are becoming more environmentally conscious every year: 83% say that they wish restaurants would use more environmentally friendly practices.
  • Two-thirds of customers are now prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly products.
  • Plant-based products are expected to grow in sales by 500% by 2030.
  • According to Gruhub’s Taste of 2021 food report, the #1 most popular dish amongst Americans was the Impossible Burger.
  • Gen Z’ers are turning to plant-based fixings and healthier ingredients, and restaurant chains will make it a priority to deliver on this evolution in 2021.  
  • The most vegan-friendly American states include California, New York, Florida, Texas & Georgia.

With more delivery options and orders, your customers are becoming pickier:

  • Searches for "no egg," "no jalapeños," and "no cilantro" increased dramatically over the last year.
  • Geographically, American customers in the northeast are pickier than other regions:
  • Customers in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Georgia, added special instructions to their orders most often.

Comfort food isn’t going anywhere, but its meaning is expanding for younger generations:

  • According to Grubhub’s Taste of 2021 food report, the top dishes for 2021 includes quite a few traditional & less-traditional comforting indulgences:
Top Dishes

Impossible cheeseburger (+442%)

Shredded pork taco (+310%)

Apple pecan chicken salad (+287%)

Detroit-style pizza (+263%)

Margarita (+240%)

Pub mac and cheese (+174%)

Pork dumplings (+173%)

Chicken burrito (+166%)

Poke nacho (+158%)

Lettuce wrap (+155%)

Top Side Dishes: chips and pico de gallo (+205%), stuffed garlic knot (+174%), mac and cheese (+173%), cornbread (+171%), and chips and queso (+155%)

At-home dining experiences, increased delivery app usage, delivery “doors” and more in Mexico

Despite a 2% tax increase on delivery apps for Mexico City, delivery has continued to grow across the country. Mexico has learned to take delivery to its peak with some trends and strategies you can implement in your restaurant.

The portal Statista Digital Market estimates that in 2022, there will be 34.4 million users of delivery apps in Mexico – 134% more than in 2017.  So let's take a trip to the land of tacos and tequila and see what they’re delivery habits are all about:

Mexican ordering habits

Based on information from the Mexican Online Sales Association (AMVO), 83% of Mexicans have a delivery app; 76% are food, 60% supermarket, 53% shipments, and 14% medicines.

According to Fintonic, a financial optimization company,

  • Rappi was the app that had the highest average ticket size ($328 Mexican pesos!) in the first six months of 2021.
  • UberEats came in second place with an average ticket size of $172 Mexican pesos.
  • And last but not least, DiDi Food, comes in at third place with an average ticket size $144 Mexican pesos.

The introduction of an exclusive “delivery door” at restaurants across Mexico

Imagine that your restaurant is packed with customers eating, customers waiting for a table, and delivery drivers looking for a way to get to the counter to collect their order. Chaos! Why not set an exclusive area for delivery? Some restaurants have started implementing a system that makes the pickup process even faster to translate to a better customer experience. We can expect to see the chaos decrease and the efficiency increase as restaurants begin rethinking their ingress, egress, and floor plan to accommodate delivery couriers in 2022.

More technology and trained personnel

The growing delivery sector in Mexico has prompted the emergence of entirely new job sectors, namely “digital platform delivery person.” In 2022, the need for this role will continue to increase, and restaurants will be seeking individuals with knowledge in restaurant tech management.

Experiences at home

One of the main challenges for restaurants will be how they can offer unique experiences to their customers at home. Some are already creating special menus for take-home or DIY occasions, where diners can cook the signature dishes of their favorite restaurant at home.

Italian, Asian, and Brazilian cuisine see an increase in orders in Brazil

With each passing year since the Covid-19 pandemic began to emerge in Brazil, the delivery landscape has been growing and the options for dishes and cuisines have increased rapidly.

The most recent surveys published by iFood and UberEats platforms reveal that 2021 represented the year with the highest number of delivery orders ever in Brazil. The top cuisine types include Italian, Brazilian and Asian food. Let’s take a look at some data on food delivery trends in Brazil in 2021 & 2022.

Burgers, Brazilian, pizza and thai

Buschle's iFood analysis mentions an increase in orders of hamburgers in Brazil, with four burgers being sold per second - resulting in a total of more than 100 million orders. The second most ordered cuisine was, unsurprisingly, Brazilian, and in third? Pizza.  When it comes to Asian food delivery, customers prefer sushi - which saw a  106% increase in orders in 2021 - while others opt for Thai which saw an increase in restaurant listings of 31% on iFood in 2021.

As hamburgers, pizza, Thai and Brazilian food may be, health concerns continue to rise during the pandemic as some customers opt for salads and açaí which saw a 130% increase in São Paulo, and ranked in 5th and 8th respectively within iFood’s 2021 recap.

Looking ahead to trends in food delivery in Brazil in 2022

Sustainability practices

In Brazil, there has been greater awareness of social and environmental issues in the last two years, resulting in customers becoming more likely to support sustainable businesses that prioritize issues such as waste and carbon offsetting.

New types of protein

Brazilians will continue to experiment with protein types beyond beef & chicken with vegetable protein beginning to gain momentum, as well as protein alternatives like seafood and insects (would you try it or is this taking it too far?).

Labor & staffing

Last but not least, in the field of mental health, restaurant owners are becoming increasingly aware of what happens behind the counter. The ANR, Galunion and IFB survey identified that 69% of establishments already operate with less than ideal staff. More than half (55%) say they have difficulty hiring, while 24% do not.

The delivery industry grows faster than the economy itself in the United Kingdom

The demand for food delivery continues to grow worldwide, and the UK is no exception. According to a report by IBISWorld, the industry has grown 35% yearly since 2017 and will continue to increase in 2022. In fact, “the market size of the Online Food Ordering & Delivery Platforms industry in the UK increased faster than the economy overall.” In 2021, plant-based food, ordering for convenience, and the rise of third-party platforms were some of the trends that stood out.

The appetite for plant-based food keeps getting bigger in the UK every year

  • According to Deliveroo, 2021 saw a 117% growth in plant-based ordering. Vegan food became one of the fastest-growing categories on the app, with more restaurants than ever introducing plant-based dishes.
  • Brighton, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, York, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Norwich, and London are the British cities with the most vegan orders on the platform.
  • The favorite vegan dishes for 2021? Deliveroo identified the top 10 and where they’re from Acai Berry Bowl (Juicebaby); The Big Oovee (Oowee Vegan); The Halo Burger (Halo Burger); Spinach Gyoza (Mildreds); Colonel VG (The Full Nelson); Vegan Doner Kebab (What The Pitta); Chick'n Filler Roll (Vegan Sandwich Co); Burger Combo (Neat Burger); Falafel Wrap (Go Falafel); and New York Melt (The Vurger Co).

Half of UK consumers are using food delivery services for the convenience

  • How Meal Delivery has transformed the Foodservice industry, a report by Kantar reveals that ordering food for convenience has become more normal. While in 2020, most people ordered delivery as a treat or reward, in 2021, it became a 50/50 split with convenience.
  • “Shared enjoyment” used to be the top occasion for meal delivery, but “convenient lunch” and “table for one” have grown in 2021. This also impacts menu choices, with dishes like salads proving vital for the “convenient lunch” occasion.
  • One big surprise? With this rise in convenience, meal delivery is now competing with fast-moving consumer goods from the supermarket like packaged foods.

Third-party platforms like Just Eat and Deliveroo are key for growth and penetration

  • Delivery platforms have been a hot topic in recent years, but are they actually worth it? Kantar assures that “multi-platform capability is a must to ensure future growth.” In 2020, 50% of meal delivery buyers used third-party platforms like Just Eat and Deliveroo, and in 2021, this number grew to 75%.
  • Since your customers likely use more than one third-party delivery app, choosing to sign up for more than one delivery platform can allow your restaurant to be seen by many people–especially those who haven’t visited your restaurant previously.

The French begin embracing delivery, and no we’re not talking just meat and cheese

We all know the French take food seriously, and many argue France serves some of the best food in the world. As take-out and delivery transform dining around the globe, the French begin broadening the range of possibilities in their kitchens. 46% of French people now have their meals delivered to their homes. The surge of delivery inspired chefs to experiment with ways of reinventing the at-home dining experience, and the results were super innovating and exciting for diners. Restaurants started offering cookbooks, limited-edition menus, guest chefs, DIY kits and more to elevate their take-out experience and stand out from the competition.

Redesigning delivery packaging

Eco-responsible food is a culinary concept that continues to gain attention yearly. Limiting the use of plastic, especially in disposable packaging, by favoring new materials is hugely relevant in France’s food industry today. Just recently announced, France will ban plastic packaging for nearly all fruits and vegetables from January 2022 on to reduce plastic waste. 19 food delivery companies in France, including Uber Eats and Deliveroo pledged to reduce their operational waste. These pledges will make tomorrow’s packaging more and more intelligent as many organizations look to develop reusable or biodegradable packaging. Lactips, a French company, created a home friendly, biodegradable plastic material that disintegrates in water. Some restaurants have already broken new ground by including edible packaging, such as the edible sandwich from Better Burger NZ.

Ghost kitchens

Since the surge of delivery, ghost kitchens have experienced a real boom. A ghost kitchen, or dark kitchen, is a restaurant dedicated to online sales, where cooked meals are only intended for take-out or delivery (with Just Eat, Uber Eats, or Deliveroo). Ghost kitchens were introduced in France in 2017 through solid brands like Out Fry and Mission Saigon. It is estimated today that there are more than 1000 dark kitchens in France, a number that has doubled since March of 2021. “Physical” restaurants have also taken the plunge by offering their cuisine exclusively digital. Ghost kitchens are an excellent opportunity for restaurants to expand their delivery operations in 2022 and try new cuisines with lowered costs.

If you would like to learn more about Ghost Kitchens, click here.

Adaptation to a flexitarian menu

Yes, even France is eating less cheese and meat. As the overall quantities of meat consumption in France continue to lower for the past 30 years, there has been an explosion of the “plant-based” market. Flexitarian alternatives, in addition to existing vegan and vegetarian offers, are encouraging “healthier” menus and favoring local farmers, as well as ranking in the list of best-sellers in take-out. As the weekly shopping habits of French families are even observing a more “flexitarian” style, it will be interesting to see how restaurants start to adapt and add more plant-based options to their menus in 2022.

Healthy alternatives, local produce and more define delivery orders across Hong Kong

Did you know that 24% of Hongkongers order delivery simply to avoid washing dishes? We think this has to be a worldwide trend—because we couldn’t relate more. In all seriousness, 2021 was a huge year in Hong Kong for the restaurant industry. In a Post-ish-pandemic world, delivery apps continue to surge & the most popular apps go as follows: FoodPanda, Deliveroo & Uber Eats. Like other regions, healthy alternatives proved to be a significant trend in 2021. In addition, social media played a massive role in the ordering decisions of young people, with 50% of millennials and Gen X crediting Facebook and 39% of Gen Z looking to Instagram for food inspo.

Hongkongers care about healthy alternatives

Seeking out local produce

One of the crucial difficulties in Hong Kong this past year is the stunted supply chain leading to instability in accessing certain ingredients locally.

  • Domestic food production is only about 2-5% in Hong Kong currently
  • Although many citizens are looking to localize their eating habits, 90% of Hongkongers emphasize global brands due to quality and diversity in product choices.

Surprising top foods from an international mecca

Guess what made it onto Deliveroo’s list of the top 10 dishes around the world? A Double Cheeseburger™ Meal from McDonald's, Hong Kong! Hong Kong is also on the list for the popular & well-ordered, 米線+一餸 (Rice Noodle Meal) from TamJai Yunnan Mixian, Hong Kong.

Cooking kits, meal replacement and more in South Korea

When it comes to South Korea’s food consumption trends in 2021, it all boils down to convenience and flexibility. The country has witnessed an increase of over 90% in online food product transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it faces trade-related challenges.

Working from home is redefining delivery with at-home meal replacements

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the prevalence of remote work,  more Koreans have to eat all three meals at home. The rapid expansion of delivery in South Korea has made food consumption more convenient, and people are cooking less thanks to the rise of home meal replacements. What are the favorites? Noodles and corn dogs. Yes, you heard that right. Corn dogs are one of the most widely-eaten frozen snacks in Korea, and they are becoming a massive staple in-home meal replacement.  In fact, Korea’s home meal replacement market has reached 5 trillion won ($4.3 billion). This new trend is even changing the way we think about home-cooked meals. Korean food giant CJ Cheiljedang Corp.’s survey of millennials and Gen Zers recently revealed that the keyword they most associated with the idea of a home-cooked meal is no longer “mom” or “mother,” but is either the name of Korea’s most prominent food delivery app Baemin and Coupang.

If it is not at-home meal replacements, then it is cooking kits.

For those young Koreans that are tired of delivery food and want to try cooking effortlessly, meal kits have become a home staple. Korea meal kit sales totaled 188.2 billion won ($163 million) last year, up 85% from 2020. Mychef, the first meal kit company in South Korea, sells more than 200,000 meal kits every month. Meal kits offer many options to cook at home, like stews, fried rice, and grilled fish quickly. Some companies specializing in food publishing collaborate with famous restaurants to commercialize their meals into convenient meal kits to be consumed at home. For example, last year, Tasty9 teamed up with celebrity chef Choi Hyun-Seok to introduce a beef tenderloin steak meal kit, selling 1.2-billion-won worth in the first half of 2021.

Keep up with trends in the delivery industry to ensure your restaurant is poised to see major success from online ordering throughout 2022!

If you made it this far, you’re probably fascinated by how quickly the food delivery business has grown in the past few years. 2021 brought significant changes for restaurants like yours & it’s fascinating to see delivery businesses grow in similar & different ways across the globe. From urgent demands for sustainable food to grocery & alcohol delivery, home kits & more, we’ll continue to keep tabs on the ever-changing technology and customer trends impacting delivery for your restaurant. If you’re interested in learning more, click here to look ahead towards food delivery shifts, trends & tips for 2022.

Looking for ways to improve your restaurant’s delivery performance? The team at Otter is here to help you increase efficiency and sales while decreasing stress and chaos. Get started today!

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