The coronavirus pandemic is already having a devastating impact on the economy with numerous sectors being shunned, with revenue loss, salary cuts, job loss and so many more. The restaurant industry is no exception.
Although the whole restaurant market of Bangladesh has been estimated at BDT 4500 crores in the last year with an expected contribution of 2.1 percent to the country's GDP by 2021; a big chunk of restaurant owners has been shuttered, with many expected to close down permanently.
Even the fast-food market that is estimated to be valued at Tk 450 crores alone, has been battered.
According to a piece of published news, all outlets of Xindian (11), 7 outlets of BFC out of 37, 9 of Pizza Hut from the existing 24, and 7 out of 12 outlets of Burger King, remain unoperated due to the ongoing pandemic.
Even, the month of July witnessed a virtual press conference between Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association (BROA) members and media personnel, depicting the dire situation of the ‘ailing’ industry.
But, during this trying time, third-party delivery apps, such as that of foodpanda, have been helping to keep the restaurant industry alive by helping many local eateries from shutting down permanently.
Scooters, cycles, and bikes with delivery boxes filled with food; they are pretty hard to miss in today’s street scene, particularly in cities. Even during this ongoing pandemic!
Welcome to the food delivery industry.
The coronavirus outbreak is forcing more people to rely on food delivery apps as they stay home, and restaurants close dine-in options. Now, amid the ongoing lockdown, actual restaurant spaces are only relevant for preparing food-to-go, and consumers are more dependent on food delivery services than ever before.
The core idea of a food delivery app is to provide a solution that does not require people to leave their homes, even on ordinary days, to avail of their services. The system gives them the facility to stay in the comfort and safety of their homes and avail everything that they need in just a few clicks.
"The Munch Station was the first restaurant in Dhaka to close its dine-in services in March, and since then has solely relied upon delivery partners for its sales”, says its Founder, Syed Sameem Shahriyar. “Our meat boxes being an ideal takeaway product have been selling quite well in a delivery-only model”, he added.
Through third-party apps that deliver food, such as foodpanda, restaurants are being able to avail of the millions of users that use such platforms for food. As a restaurateur, one can register their restaurant on a food delivery service platform such as that of foodpanda and jump on board this online trend; to not just increase visibility and reach in particular areas, but to maintain revenue flow during this dire time.
In fact, some restaurants were able to start their business amongst the pandemic due to these third party delivery apps. "The Fat Bun is a new burger joint specializing in American Cheeseburgers, launched mid-lockdown in June,” says Bushra Haque Sarah, its Founder.
“The initial plan was to open with a physical branch, but partners such as foodpanda have made the launch of a new brand seamless even in the state of a pandemic," she added.
At a time, where consumption and revenue generation have become crucial for economies to avoid recessions, the food delivery industry has created a sense of togetherness by all the parties involved — the consumers, restaurants, and riders.
Md. Abdul Malek Managing Director of Bonolota food chain says, “We have been availing services of our partner foodpanda from pre-corona times, but with the advent of this pandemic, we have been reliant on them more than ever with people maintaining social distancing and adhering to the lockdown.”
Furthermore, the food delivery industry has proved the power of digitization by not just empowering small local businesses and keeping the restaurant industry alive, but through availing delivery of essential goods such as groceries and medicines.
Ambareen Reza, the CEO of foodpanda, says, “It is quite a turbulent time for all industries and especially the restaurant industry which has been built on the crux of the demand of different cuisines. Our culture is built around food and there is a strong demand for food from these restaurants delivered safely at home - we are seeing that growth daily. For a delivery service like ours, this is the time for us to step and help both restaurants, riders, and customers.”
“We are onboarding more and more restaurants so that they can keep their businesses going through online deliveries as long as our restaurant partners can make the food ready for delivery we will take care of getting it to the customer”, she added.
In conclusion, the ongoing pandemic and lockdown have affected all sectors of the economy, including the restaurant industry. The culinary industry encompasses a wider array of stakeholders and economic issues than meets the eye, and a majority of them are struggling through troubles of an unforeseen scale at the moment.
But, the online mobile food delivery apps seem to have been a godsend for many during the coronavirus pandemic; not just restaurants.
We need more industries like third party food delivery industry and market leaders like foodpanda to step up and innovate in playing roles that ensure socio-economic prosperity; with the definition of ‘normal’ changing drastically.
(The contributor is a freelancer,email@example.com)