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The Trend

On the supply side, a deep-dive into the foodservice industry by global researchers, Technomic, found that due to the impact of COVID-19, operators are streamlining their menus by eliminating SKUs, doubling down on core products and launching safer Limited Time Offers (LTO). Motivation for streamlining is coming from struggles with costs, labour and supply availability. Without the dine-in experience, prep time has also been under pressure.

On the consumer side, there has been an increase in demand for delivered meals. South African consumer tracking research conducted during the lockdown period from April to August 2020, found that demand for takeaway/delivery meals rebounded far faster than eating in (Streetbees, 2020).

The incidence of purchase has been consistent and users quickly increased their frequency of purchase to at least 2-3 times per week (Streetbees, 2020).

The contribution of takeaway/deliveries to the chain restaurant sector is increasing.

Operators can make the most of the increased demand for food delivery by streamlining and customising their menus. There is additional advice regarding improved delivery services under CONSUMER TRENDS.

Your Business Application


Technomic (2020) found that operators are more focused on menuing items that are historically best sellers, are profitable, can be executed quickly (especially for the drive-thru) and can hold up during off-premises travel.

The study recommends the following practical suggestions to improve efficiency and streamline menus (Technomics, 2020):

Source ingredients with multiple applications to increase efficiency on several fronts, from labour to storage to spend. Consider broadly how common ingredients could feature across varied times of day, meal parts or menu categories, or even across purchase modes (e.g., dine-in, takeout, delivery, etc).

Focusing on formulations that drive sales and traffic among a broad audience is key. However, niche items could draw in a certain audience who otherwise may not have visited had that item not been offered.

Promote menu formulations that consumers are unlikely or unable to prepare at home. Whether recipes are too complicated or feature lesser-known ingredients, these items can draw consumers into restaurants.

Here are a few useful tips for increasing the demand of food delivery offerings:

Ensure food delivery options exceed expectations

Food delivery menus shouldn’t simply be a digital version of the restaurant’s dine-in or takeaway menus. Here are some tips:

  • Keep it simple: The full menu does not have to be the delivery menu.
  • Compact delivery menus make for easier operations and faster delivery times.
  • Include add-ons. Offer avocado, additional sides or extra protein, cheese, sauce, etc.
  • Complete the meal. Suggest pairings such as milkshakes, desserts and home-brewed iced teas for the meals to boost checkout prices.
  • Bring on the food specials. Blast out specials on Instagram or social media to drum up extra business and excitement about the offerings. Make sure to post with photos to get the cravings going.
  • Consider family-style meals. Include beverage, appetiser, salad, main course and dessert.

Highlight the wholesome aspect of dishes

Increase the sales of specific dishes (and the restaurant as a whole) by appealing to the health-conscious side of diners who prefer having their meals at home, especially relevant during current times.

Here are a few tips for promoting healthy options on the menu:

  • Identify a selection of dishes that have wholesome ingredients, then group these dishes and place them at the top of the menu - preferably under a “Better For You” section to draw attention.
  • Highlight the aspects of these dishes that make them great for the immune system by adding their benefits to each dish’s description. For example, if your dish features turmeric as an ingredient, highlight its anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Work with food delivery operators to promote your section of wholesome dishes.

Provide great value with family-style meals

Diners appreciate good value, and family sizes represent fantastic value for money while making purchase decisions easy. Diners can purchase food, drinks and even side dishes in one set, rather than having to purchase them separately and incurring additional charges.

Be sure to include set meal options for groups of all sizes. A good selection of choices should (at least) include:

  • Individual meals
  • Meals for two
  • Bundled sets or feasts for a family of 4 to 6 persons.

Final Thoughts

A menu is effectively the operator’s product list, presented to diners to select their meal. It makes good business sense to adapt product offerings based on changing market conditions. As discussed above, these include an increase in demand for delivered meals, and a business imperative to increase efficiencies and cut prep times. Streamlining and customising menus for delivery can help to boost profits.