Our Take

Musings on the Foodservice Industry

Update – the UBER of Food

Sep 28 2014

Two months ago, I wrote a blog regarding UBER is decimating the taxi industry. The point of the article was for food industry execs to consider how everything is changing and to get on board to lead change rather than wait for it to be thrust upon you.

If you don’t know, UBER is a Silicon Valley company that changed the business of taxi service. UBER makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services. The company arranges pickups in dozens of cities around the world. UBER, like many companies before it, disrupted an established business model so consumers get better, faster, cheaper goods and services. 

When I wrote the blog, it did not occur to me that UBER could be IN the food business. Just a few weeks ago, UBER announced:

Taxi service Uber has moved into the fast-food delivery industry with its new service “UberFRESH”, which it claims will deliver meals from local restaurants in under 10 minutes. The news comes from Uber’s official blog, which states that the new service will only be available in Santa Monica between Tuesday 26th August and Friday 5th September. 

Anyone in that area will be able to order lunch between 11:30am and 2:30pm from a selection of popular local eateries. Customers will be able to choose from one item uber freshper day – two salads, a sub and a chicken soup – which cost $12 each and come with a free cookie.

What a game changer for restaurants; a delivery service without headcount, overhead or even a marketing expense. UBER markets the service and finds customers; foodservice establishments simply cook and pack meals.

Similarly, Whole Foods and Instacart, the personal grocery shopping-and-delivery service, have announced what they are calling “a new partnership that enables customers to have Whole Foods Market products delivered in as little as one hour. Customers will soon also have the convenient option to place orders via Instacart and pick up their order at a local participating Whole Foods Market store.”

Instacart Personal Shoppers confirm incoming orders on their smartphones, shop for the items at Whole Foods Market stores, and then deliver orders to customers in the designated delivery timeframe … All Instacart customers receive free delivery on their first order; thereafter, the cost is just $3.99 for two-hour delivery or $5.99 for one-hour delivery. Customers can also purchase a $99 annual Instacart Express membership and receive free delivery on any order over $35.”

I will make the same point as my previous blog. Consumers want convenience and are willing to pay for it. Yes, they want great food that is healthy and good for them, but today’s worker, parent, student etc is severely time challenged. They are willing to pay for food and they are willing to pay for food SERVICE.

Now is the time to be creative and focus your foodservice establishment on food SERVICE.