Lockdowns and restricted movement control implemented by countries around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic has seen people go berserk at hypermarkets, hoarding food supplies. As people are urged to self-isolate and stay home, there has been a surge of demand in food delivery services in Southeast Asia.
Food delivery has seen an exponential increase in demand all across the region as ASEAN member states enforce partial or even full lockdowns on their citizens. No more is this more evident than in Malaysia, a country where eating out is a popular activity when it comes to daily meals. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, food delivery services had affected the dining behaviour of Southeast Asians.
We see them in the business district and in the suburbs; on the streets, in our apartment blocks and offices. The food delivery riders with brightly coloured backpacks advertising the logos of their operators, Gojek, Grab, Foodpanda and Deliveroo amongst others, on their missions to deliver lunch or dinner to ASEAN’s hungry workforce. This would not come as a surprise particularly to consumers of the millennial generation.
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Cloud kitchens across Southeast Asia are disrupting the dining restaurant model, operating straight from individual cooking venues and delivering straight to customers’ doors. Cloud kitchens are also called delivery-only kitchens, ghost kitchens and dark kitchens. The elimination of customer seating, air conditioning and lighting slashes rent costs and bills and also reduces the need to employ serving staff.
This year has been transformational for the ride hailing sector in Southeast Asia according to a recent joint report by Google and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. With the merger of Grab and Uber in March, and the latter’s withdrawal of services from the region, Grab has consolidated its leadership in the sector.
Malaysians are said to love food and convenience. This prompted a proliferation of food delivery services in recent years, using the convenience of websites, apps and even Facebook pages to reach customers.The food delivery market in Malaysia looks lucrative. It is expected to generate US$89 million in revenue this year and is estimated to hit US$202 million in 2022.
Technology has changed the way consumers decide about food choices; be it where and when to buy it, or how it should be delivered to them. This in turn influences how the food industry reaches out to its customers today. The challenge for the food industry is to provide highly efficient services while catering to unique customer preferences in different markets across Southeast Asia.