By Colleen Cross
A lot of Canadians are interested eating at home more often. I know this for three reasons. First, research reports have been predicting this trend, which goes hand in hand with tough economic times. When money is tight, people tend to hunker down with family and scale down their spending until the economy improves.
Second, online food-delivery service continues to grow. This includes companies like UberEats and Foodora, and also takes in virtual or “ghost” kitchens we hear about that avoid paying overhead and can potentially operate 24-7.
Third, this spring has spawned a ridiculous number of meal kit companies, all competing for customers’ dollars. Meal kits are nothing new. But if you use Facebook as a guide, you’ll notice ads from companies like HelloFresh and Goodfood popping up fast and furious!
So, what are these services giving customers that they can’t get elsewhere?
This trend goes beyond age. It’s not only about people in their twenties wanting to learn skills to help them live on their own. It’s also about people in their thirties with young kids who can’t leave the house and need healthy food delivered.
The sheer number of meal-kit ads suggests they are meeting needs: to save time, to reduce food waste and to teach cooking skills. Two reasons behind the high interest in these meal “solutions”: people want to be better cooks and be more adventurous – all in the comfort of their homes.
How can pizzerias meet these needs?
Are there ways your shop can give customers more time with their family and friends? Much of the pizza industry is built around the idea of saving customers time and giving them value for money.
Encouraging customers to order ahead, online or by phone, and posting reminders on social media are ways you can put their convenience first and plan ahead for your own workflow.
While the pizza lover eating out or ordering in does not see the food waste generated by their meal, you can appeal to their concern for the environment by highlighting in your marketing things your business is doing to reduce food waste. Consider doing more nose-to-tail and root-to-stem cooking. Can you repurpose ingredients such as turning leftover dough into garlic knots or using carrot tops in salads?
Learning cooking skills is important, especially to 20-somethings trying to “adult.” Are there ways – through your menu, maybe – you can teach customers about your ingredients and where they come from, about your baking techniques or about why certain toppings are tasty combinations? Take ’n’ bake seems a natural fit for people who want to enjoy the sensation of baking their favourite pizzas in their own oven and serving them hot.
Although there are a lot of meal kits out there, not all of them are succeeding in the very competitive foodservice market. This tells us there is room for improvement – that there is something missing – in what they are offering.
Maybe what’s missing is you, the independent operator: the heart and hands behind your product!
Speaking of learning opportunities, be sure to come out to our Canadian Pizza Summit and Chef of the Year Competitions! See details at canadianpizzamag.com/pizzashow or call 519-428-3471, ext. 261.