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The Trend

This was a key finding from South African consumer tracking research conducted during the lockdown period from when takeaway deliveries were allowed (12 May 2020) until mid-August, when restrictions were eased (Streetbees, 2020). Once takeaways were allowed to re-open, users quickly increased their frequency of purchase to at least 2-3 times per week (Streetbees, 2020).

Takeaway/delivery was a lifeline for operators trying to make up at least partially for dine-in sales, and they looked for ways to increase delivery sales.

From this research, we can learn how consumers adapted their behaviour to comply with regulations and how the perceived risk of exposure influenced their behaviour (Streetbees, 2020). Indications are that adapted behaviour will persist with the lingering COVID-19 threat. This makes food delivery a must-win game for operators.

Convenience remains the main motivator for ordering deliveries. Under the Menu Innovation tab, we share insights in to how to streamline and customise menus for delivery. Knowing what consumers are ordering and making sure that their at-home meal experience is comparable to eating out, can win operators an edge in the delivery game.

Your Business Appliation

We share the following practical tips to help you take advantage of the opportunities presented by a shift to meal delivery:

1. SA’s Top Five Ordered Meals. What does SA want?

It is our experience that there are tried-and-tested favourites when it comes to delivery. Focus on these basics and, equally important, consider how the delivered meals need to differ from the dine-in experience.


It is the ‘pizza guy’ who made home delivery famous. As a delivery flagship item, it remains popular among SA consumers. A key ingredient for any pizza is the sauce. The scope for innovative, seasonal, healthy options can grab diners attention.

DELIVERY TIP: Offer additional toppings with pizzas so everyone in the family can build their own pizza or experiment with different dipping sauces.

Burger and Chips

Moving on from the traditional beef and chicken, diners are also keen to try vegetarian options, a lentil burger, for example. Pleasing the whole family with a variety of different burgers is easy. Burgers and chips can be made healthier for the kids by substituting traditional potato chips with sweet potato fries.

CHEF’S TIP: Flavour your burgers your way with signature sauces. Add a twist of blue cheese, roasted red pepper, basil pesto or paprika to make your own burger mayo.

DELIVERY TIP: Pack any additional sauces separately to prevent the burger and chips from becoming soggy.


Chicken captures the lion’s share of the SA market. This trend extends to deliveries. From cooking style, to cuts and flavouring, the possibilities with chicken are wide open. Chicken pieces can be suitable for the whole family, served with a salad and chips, or sweet potato wedges as a healthier version. Strips and chips make the ideal kids meal, or for an indulgent treat chicken can also be deep fried.

CHEF’S TIP: Add your own signature dipping sauce as an additional extra to the chicken dish for extra flavour.

DELIVERY TIP: Package the chicken separately to the sides in order to maintain crispiness.

Fish and Chips

A value dish which is also regarded as a nutritious meal, fish is similar to chicken in that it can be prepared for a full spectrum of tastes. A favourite is battered fish, but fish can also be served as a gluten-free option or pan fried. Vegetable sides, such as sweet potato and baby carrots, give it a healthier take.

DELIVERY TIP: Package fish separately, and if fried, wrap in greaseproof paper. Put sauces into separate containers and chips in a separate package or compartment.

Pasta Dishes

Pasta is a gourmet meal which should not be left off the delivery menu. Recipes can be tomato, or cream-based sauces, vegetarian options, and include signature flavours and combinations.

DELIVERY TIP: One of the most important things is making sure your dishes travel well. Pasta continues to cook in the box and the sauce may dry during delivery. Test your pasta dishes and make adjustments, either add more sauce or undercook the pasta slightly to allow for cooking during delivery.

2. Delivery: What Can Go Wrong and How To Fix It.

These three problems can sabotage a good meal in the final leg of its journey. Once you are aware of them, they can easily be addressed.

Consistency & Texture

Saucy pastas are one of the more difficult dishes, as sauces may clump or separate. The pasta may continue to cook when packed in an insulated box, or absorb the sauce, resulting in the dish being dry.

Pack the sauce and pasta separately, and let the customer mix them before eating. You can also create the sauce using ingredients which promote stability, or add these ingredients to scratch-made sauces to increase stability.

Temperature & Visuals

Due to temperature changes during travel, the consistency of certain dishes may change, making them less appealing or ruin the dish. For example, a medium rare steak can be done, but it’ll continue cooking in the box. Or with pasta, the sauce may even dry during delivery.

Adjust your dishes and use better suited products for your delivery menu. Professional ingredients contain modified starches that can maintain consistency and texture of your sauce. Professional sauces that maintain a consistent béchamel taste and texture are available.


Try using leak-proof packaging to ensure that the dishes get to their destination without popping open and spilling. Alternatively, have the packaging wrapped and sealed to minimise leakage and the resulting mess.

Apart from ensuring the quality of your dishes, you also need to address challenges faced during the actual transportation. For example, liquid-based dishes can spill and ruin the dining experience if they’re not packed properly in tightly sealed containers.

Final Thoughts

There appears to be no end to the new COVID-19 compliant way of living in the near future. With this in mind, it can be assumed that the delivery market will be a key area for operators and one worth investing in. Operators who crack the delivery market should be positioned to sell well.



Eating Occasions Dinter Tracker Insights, South Africa.