As the leading foodservice marketing agency, keeping a close eye on market developments is part of our bread and butter. And although the Coronavirus pandemic was an incredibly tough period for our industry, it also inspired chefs, suppliers and operators to get creative and adapt their businesses, resulting in a multitude of new trends.

Food delivery was a real frontrunner in this regard. Whilst takeaway is by no means a novel idea, COVID-19 triggered a noticeable shift in consumer habits with food delivery sales revenue reaching £11.4bn in the UK in 2022, an increase of £3.7bn year-on-year.*

What resulted was a huge influx in Dark Kitchens (aka Ghost Kitchens, Cloud Kitchens, Shadow Kitchens – call them what you will), basically sites which existed solely to cook and deliver restaurant-quality dishes without a restaurant. These new and innovative routes to market proliferated during the pandemic to answer the ever-increasing cries for takeaway and delivery options without the costly overheads of operating a full-size restaurant.

It’s a sector with legs. With operators more conscious than ever of margins and budgets and consumer use of delivery and takeaway apps growing like never before – there were 26 million users in 2020 compared to 13 million in 2015* – the potential that dark kitchens can offer players in the food and drink industry is unparalleled. It’s a real opportunity not only for independents and multi-sector sites but also those in the commercial kitchen equipment sector as demand for these dedicated kitchens soars around the country.

In response to this heightened demand, the UK Food and Drink Shows (25th – 27th April, NEC, Birmingham) have for the first time, introduced a specialist Dark Kitchen Show to showcase how those in the food industry can take advantage of this flourishing new trend. You can register for your free badge to attend here.

*UK Foodservice Delivery Market Report 2021 (Lumina Intelligence)