The rise of on-demand food delivery is driving a sea change in the global food and drink industry. Ghost kitchens represent an important component of this process. As freshly prepared meals and snacks become a larger part of our lives, more production will move “into the cloud,” with a growing separation between production sites, points of sale, and consumer interaction.
Restaurant delivery aggregators add grocery, third party grocery delivery adds foodservice. Logistics of food prep, delivery becoming abstracted away from the point of sale.
Third party ghost kitchen operators embrace a marketplace model, combining a curated selection of brands, often in a single app. Significant potential for bundling separate orders, fast delivery, and takeaway traffic.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a massive pool of spare capacity in independent restaurant kitchens. Investment pouring into companies seeking to connect virtual and other brands with independent restaurants to fulfil delivery orders.
Growth of virtual brands offers room for experimentation, yet also means fewer barriers to entry for quick-service favourites such as chicken wings or noodles. Could eventually drive growth in larger, more specialised, highly-automated ghost kitchen facilities (“food factories”) creating reliable favourites and competing largely on price.
A significant number of brands could exist solely via distributed third party production, contracting with intermediaries to connect with independents. In markets with more nascent restaurant sectors, highly-integrated operators combining their own kitchen facilities with a host of their own delivery-optimised brands could drive the emergence of a modern restaurants channel.
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