Food Delivery Service Growth Leads To Increased Consumption And Concern

Food delivery is big business these days, and business is good. More and more restaurants and grocery stores are contracting with delivery services to reach consumers who are demanding the convenience of home delivery. But with restaurant and grocery delivery on the rise, the effects that the convenience may have on the health of Americans also becomes a concern.

Fast food giant Taco Bell recently announced that it has contracted with delivery service DoorDash to provide customers with home and office delivery of its Mexican-inspired fast food menu in select markets.

Customers who opt for delivery of their Taco Bell order through DoorDash will see slightly higher menu prices along with a flat $3.99 delivery fee. But many consumers are willing to pay the inflated menu prices in order to receive something that is increasing in societal value: convenience.

Food delivery services like GrubHub and Seamless have seen rapid expansion in recent years, as consumers see greater value in having their favorite sit-down restaurant menu items conveniently delivered to their doorstep, saving them time and aggravation.

But with the increase in food delivery service, some are concerned that it is feeding more than just hungry mouths; it could be feeding into America’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle, making unhealthy food options that much more accessible to those who need it least.

People with sedentary, inactive lifestyles are at an increased risk of health problems, including obesity, which can be compounded by increased consumption of unhealthy foods, such as fast food. A sedentary lifestyle in combination with poor diet may lead to such health issues as high cholesterol, heart disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

And adult obesity in America is on the rise. According to a recent report released by the American Heart Association, 69 percent of adults are now considered obese.

But food delivery doesn’t always have to mean fast food, many food delivery companies specialize in healthy food options.

Companies such as Blue Apron, GreenChef, and HelloFresh, offer fresh, healthy, and often organic options to consumers who use their services.

Blue Apron offers its customers fresh, seasonal ingredients for quick make-at-home meals that are pre-portioned, along with recipe instructions that allow time-crunched consumers to whip up a healthy, gourmet meal in minutes; all with the convenience of home delivery. And the business model is proving to be successful. Blue Apron has seen business triple over the past year.

“Interest in food is higher than it’s ever been, culinary skill levels are lower than they have ever been in this country,” Matt Salzberg, CEO of Blue Apron said in an interview with New York Business Journal. “People have a real genuine interest in doing things healthy, getting away from their digital lives where they’re spending their whole day in front of a computer screen.”

Blue Apron is also aiming their food delivery service at the market that is generating the highest demand — millenials; making meals convenient, affordable and complete with instruction.

In addition to meal delivery, grocery delivery services are also seeing a surge, with regional companies like freshdirect and national companies like Instacart and AmazonFresh seeing swells in business and entering new markets regularly.

Whether it’s a healthy meal, a fast food indulgence, or your weekly grocery run, food delivery doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

[Image courtesy of Mario Tama/Getty Images]