Virtual kitchens, aka ghost kitchens or dark kitchens, have been part of a growing sector within food delivery over the past few years. The emergence of COVID-19 and lockdowns around the world has fundamentally influenced the virtual kitchen marketplace and their usage.

At the start of 2019, virtual kitchens were being hailed as here to stay, leading to many asking who should get on board next with dark kitchens. The market was looking to be shaped by how successful these new virtual kitchens became as one of the choices between dine-in restaurants, traditional takeaways and food delivery. Then at the start of 2020, the pandemic hit the UK and cafes, restaurants and other eat-in establishments were forced to close. Some food businesses were able to safely pivot to food delivery, and those already in virtual kitchens saw a spike in demand.

Nevertheless, there is much to consider with virtual kitchens in practice. This Must Reads looks at where the virtual kitchen market is heading, which big brands are getting on board and how they are utilising their spaces.

Kellogg’s launches menu through Deliveroo’s delivery-only kitchens – Foodservice Equipment Journal

Breakfast cereal might not be the first thing you think of when you imagine food delivery, after all you can buy boxes of cereal and store them easily at home. But for decades, recipes have featured cereals as ingredients to create fun and delicious desserts and sweet snacks, like rice crispy treats. Kellogg themselves have take advantage of this, marketing their own cereal bars. Now, they are taking cereal treats to the next level with a delivery-only meal service offering ‘Coco Pop Bubble Crepes, Crunchy Nut Shake and Nutri-Grain Cheese Cake Bar.’ Have a read of what the manager of these new Kellogg’s Kitchen Creations has to say about this significant step from the brand.

Read the full article: Kellogg’s launches menu through Deliveroo’s delivery-only kitchens

McDonald’s Opens First Dark Kitchen to Keep Up With London’s Love of Soggy Fries – Eater London

Big brands can’t help but get bigger! McDonalds are opening up their first UK virtual kitchens to keep up with demand for their signature fast food, while reducing kitchen costs. This move from one of the biggest high street restaurants and fast food chains might just signal the start of a goldrush by other similar brands. If this new scheme works out, there is no reason why Burger King, Nando’s and similar chains won’t get on board too. The online delivery market has been a leveller for small food businesses by giving them equal access to customers without a storefront, so it was only a matter of time before large scale food brands started concentrating their investment online – especially with the continued rise of food delivery in the UK.

Read the full article: McDonald’s Opens First Dark Kitchen to Keep Up With London’s Love of Soggy Fries

Food delivery kitchens have corporate catering contracts in their sights – Foodservice Equipment Journal

Further proof that we are only at the beginning of a trend for virtual kitchens comes with the news that Just Eat and Takeaway.com have started buying up b2b food delivery and catering companies. Food delivery doesn’t have to be Friday takeaways or meal prep-kits, this iteration can also fill the space occupied by local sandwich vans delivering to offices and catering for conferences or hipster offices (team lunch anyone?). Virtual kitchens could take over as the primary resource for food delivery services at venues that want to offer catering but don’t have the space to do so.

Read the full article: Food delivery kitchens have corporate catering contracts in their sights

Only time will tell what changes to food delivery will come and what impact virtual kitchens have on the operations of food businesses in the long term, though it seems clear that they are being considered by food businesses of all sizes as a way to stay operational in difficult times. It’s sure to be interesting to see how virtual kitchen use develops and what offerings, from fast food to gourmet creations, customers favour.

If you’re thinking of using a virtual kitchen for your food business then contact us to talk about your options. You can also check out more articles on food delivery and how to use a virtual kitchen on our advice blog.

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