At the beginning of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Argentina, the biggest international chains in limited-service restaurants such as McDonald’s and Burger King, and the local chain Mostaza were all forced to cease operations completely. These major players in the category were not even permitted to offer delivery or takeaway services for a considerable period of time lasting more than a month.
The best performing subcategory in limited-service restaurants in 2020 was chained ice cream limited-service restaurants. This category of limited-service restaurants was the only one to record positive growth, and the key to these players’ success was adaptability and diversification.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an increase in the number of so-called ‘dark kitchens’ in Argentina in 2020. These kitchens produce many different food brands from one central location, focussing entirely on home delivery sales, which makes them particularly resilient to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as there were no eat-in sales to lose during the periods of lockdown.
Many habits and activities picked up by Argentinian consumers during the long periods of national and local lockdowns in 2020 are expected to last into the forecast period. One of the big habits which is expected to remain in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is the growing popularity of home delivery services and, especially, of delivery apps in Argentina.
All chained limited-service restaurants have implemented robust safety and hygiene protocols in order to safely reopen their premises whilst COVID-19 remains a threat to public health. These extra health and hygiene procedures will result in higher costs for brands in this category and will need to be maintained in the forecast period for at least 2021, but most likely going into 2022 as the COVID-19 virus will continue to represent a threat.
The situation of outlets will be a determining factor in the forecast period. It is believed that standalone locations will be able to recover more quickly than consumer foodservice through retail in the coming years as there will be more restrictions in place for large venues such as shopping centres.
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