Food Delivery Market Surging Thanks to Online Orders

Experts predict 79 percent growth in the next six years.

Seamless delivery on Amazon Alexa
Photo: Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty Images

It used to be when you wanted to order food in, you had to pick up the phone, repeat your order loudly and clearly to the poor employee on the other end, and then wait and call back when that "30 minutes" delivery window the quoted you had lapsed. And that's only if a restaurant offered delivery at all. But, of course, we live in a new age where apps and smartphones can bring us pretty much anything we want any any time. And as CNBC reports, a new study suggests that online ordering platforms like Grubhub are fueling a surge in the meal delivery market.

The investment firm Cowen predicts that the market will experience a 79% spike in value by 2022, thanks to ease with which people can order food from their phones or computers.

"All in, we forecast delivery to grow from $43 billion in 2017 to $76 billion in 2022, 12% annually over the next five years," Cowen chief analyst Andrew Charles said in a statement on Wednesday.

It's not just millennials that are behind the boom either. Cowen found that adults 35-44 also regularly indulge in online meal delivery services.

Cowen surveyed online delivery users and found that 34 percent of respondents use Grubhub, 70% higher than the closest competitor listed on the survey. Since the majority of people use Grubhub as their food delivery service, the firm predicts that Grubhub's revenue will increase 22 percent in the next five years.

According to a survey released this April, Grubhub (which merged with Seamless in 2013) is America's favorite food delivery service. In the first quarter of 2017, the service delivered food to 8.75 million people, with an average of 324,000 customers per day. (The service is so popular that one women even confessed to being addicted to Grubhub back in 2014.)

Right now, the entire online delivery market is already worth $20 billion. By 2022, that number will likely have jumped to $55 billion. The analysts also noted that foods like chicken and hamburgers are beginning to outpace "traditional delivery staples," like Chinese food and pizza.

Restaurant sales still come in at about $783 billion annually, meaning that (thankfully) online food ordering hasn't phased out sit-down dinners — not yet at least. And contrary to popular belief, millennials aren't actually behind the demise of the chain restaurant: They still love Olive Garden (which is also jumping on the delivery service wagon with a new partnership with Amazon).

As food delivery continues to grow, who knows what the industry will come up with next? Robots might start delivering your pizza (we're actually not too far off), perhaps kitchens without any seating areas out front will become a new norm, maybe you'll never have to leave your house to eat again. The future, especially when it comes to food, will be full of surprises, and we're guessing they'll all be delivered to your door.

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