By 2030 most meals currently cooked at home are instead ordered online and delivered from restaurants or central kitchens

What are consumers ordering through food delivery apps? GrubHub shares its top foods from 2018

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Food delivery has become a weekly habit for many, according to GrubHub's 2018 user survey. 	©GettyImages / Rawpixel
Food delivery has become a weekly habit for many, according to GrubHub's 2018 user survey. ©GettyImages / Rawpixel

Related tags: GrubHub, Meal

Plant-based eating and convenient breakfast items are trends that have taken over the packaged food and beverage space, but do the same consumer interests hold true for the food delivery industry as more time-starved consumers are reporting using apps such as GrubHub and UberEats as a replacement to cooking at home?

UBS forecasts that food delivery from restaurants sales will grow at a CAGR of 20% worldwide reaching $365bn by 2030 from $35bn this year.

In its report published earlier this year, UBS stated: “There could be a scenario where by 2030 most meals currently cooked at home are instead ordered online and delivered from either restaurants or central kitchens.”

Chicago-based GrubHub​ which leads the US food delivery industry with a 34% market share, according to Edison Trends, analyzed its orders from the past year placed by more than 16 million users, and uncovered its top most popular food items as well as why consumers chose ordering takeout through an app.

As far as why Americans are ordering food delivery more often, 43% of GrubHub said it was because they “didn’t’ feel like cooking”​, followed by satisfying a craving (30%), and “saving time from cooking/cleaning”​ (28%).

Plant-based leads the way

Mirroring the rise of plant-based foods in the CPG industry, GrubHub users were ordering meat-free options frequently within the past year.

According to Grubhub's ordering data, bean burritos took the top spot as the food surging the most in popularity in 2018, rising 276% as compared to 2017.

Cauliflower items (a trend flagged by retailer FreshDirect ​for 2019) were also popular plant-based items. GrubHub saw cauliflower rice bowls increase 155% in orders and buffalo cauliflower making the list of the top 10 foods with a 124% increase (off of a small base).

“One food we don't see in our top 10? Red meat,”​ said GrubHub.

GrubHub added that the mega trend of avocado toast - which was exceedingly popular in recent years - did not make the list.

However, some meat-based items, especially chicken dishes, were still a predominant presence on GrubHub’s top 10 list:

#3: chicken slider (189% more popular)

#5: chicken burrito (164% more popular)

#6: chicken sandwich (160% more popular)

#8: chicken and waffle slider (145% more popular)

#9: parmesan chicken  (124% more popular)

Making time for breakfast

Breakfast: what some consider the most important - but also the most skipped - meal of the day, is becoming a more popular order for GrubHub’s millions of users with healthy items claiming the top two spots for 2018. 

  1. peanut butter acai bowl (350% more popular)
  2. detox juice (193% more popular)
  3. bacon, egg and cheese sandwich (190% more popular)
  4. breakfast burrito (141% more popular)
  5. french toast (106% more popular)

Gender differences

According to GrubHub’s user data, more men tended to order pickup or delivery in 2018 (59% of men ordered at least once a week compared to 36% of women).

The top three types of most ordered foods didn’t differ greatly:

  • Top Foods Among Men: Burgers (31%) / BBQ (24%) / Chinese (23%)
  • Top Foods Among Women: Women: Chinese (32%) / Mexican (27%) / Burgers (25%)

Consumer attitudes and behaviors towards ordering food through an app were slightly varied between men and women. More than two-thirds of women surveyed (69%) tend to be spontaneous when it comes to ordering, compared to just over half of men (54%). And when they've had a long day, 48% of men will splurge on something more expensive compared to 34% of women.

The new family dinner?

The convenience factor of ordering takeout is felt most by families with 91% of respondents with children reporting that they ordered food through a mobile delivery platform within the past year citing that they do so because “it was easier”.

Dads tend to order food as a treat for the kids and as way to spend more time with their family, whereas 44% ordered food for dinner because they didn’t have time to cook or didn’t have anything planned for dinner.

Moms and dads also have different priorities when it comes to ordering food. According to GrubHub’s survey, dads named "variety of restaurants" ​(24%) as their top priority, compared to only 19% of moms. Mothers are clearly more budget conscious with 25% choosing "budget-friendly"​ restaurants, compared to only 19% of men.

However, there is still some guilt associated with ordering food rather than cooking in the kitchen, noted GrubHub users. 

"Nearly every parent surveyed orders in for their family, but one third of respondents said they feel judged by other parents when they do. This feeling is felt more by dads -- 45% say they feel negatively judged when ordering in, compared to 22% of moms,"​ GrubHub added. 

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