September 15, 2021

Lunch and Late Night Food Delivery - Is it Worth the Extra Hours?

Anyone who runs a restaurant franchise knows that maximising orders is crucial. If there was a way to spread orders throughout the day, rather than having to turn business away at busy periods – wouldn’t you want to take advantage?

The UK online food delivery market is worth over £8.5 billion. With an average spend of £5 per person, per week – it’s a market that offers plenty of growth opportunities. One of the biggest recent trends is the rise of lunch and late-night food delivery.


The growth of the “fourth meal”


In 2007, the US chain Taco Bell launched a massive advertising campaign where they coined the term “fourth meal”. Aimed at youngsters, the fast-food brand wanted to grab the lucrative post-dinner market. Whilst the campaign has long-since finished, the concept of the “fourth meal” is here to stay.


In 2021, more and more diners are squeezing an extra meal into their day – and this isn’t just late-night munchies. Time-hungry workers, hard-pressed parents and busy students are all adapting eating schedules.


What are the main changes to consumer behaviour?


Online food delivery has shifted from traditional family meals to a more flexible eating style. This incorporates multiple small meals, often eaten on-the-go or alone.


Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated online delivery trends, Millennial and Gen-Z diners expect on-demand services. Research revealed that 60% of 18-24 year olds increased their use of food delivery services in 2020, and a further 26% planned to increase this in future.


“Lunchtime” now starts at 11am (or earlier!) and dinner starts at 5pm – continuing late into the night. In particular, “night owl dining” has accounted for over 80% of UK out-of-home dining’s growth in recent years. People also order much earlier in the week, as delivery is no longer seen as just a Friday-night treat.


What types of food have risen in popularity?


Restaurant franchises are increasingly responding to demand for healthier items. Indeed, Deliveroo saw sales of healthy products go up by 282% over 2020.


Lunchtime Food Delivery


Lunchtime diners favour cheaper options that can be eaten at desks. Orders of sandwich-style wraps (for instance) increased by over 20% compared with the previous year. Pizza and burger orders also rose by around 10%, demonstrating the rise of comforting, simple and cost-effective options.


Late-Night Food Delivery


Many modern workers head to the gym after work, meaning health-conscious post-workout fuel is a large growth area. Indeed, a healthy-eating bistro Eat Clean Cuisine has said their busiest trading times always fall in the late-evening category. With long working hours showing no sign of slowing – it’s a significant opportunity for food franchise owners.


Should your food franchise offer lunch and late-night delivery?


With increased demand for healthy and comforting options at all hours of the day – your virtual kitchen brand can fill a crucial market need.


Lunch and late-night food doesn’t always have to be a large meal, so focusing on things such as wraps and snacks is a particularly lucrative area. Whilst adapting your ghost kitchen for lunch and late-night delivery undoubtedly involves extra time, money and staffing – the benefits in terms of increased orders, spread more evenly throughout the day are too large to ignore.



For more food franchise advice and industry news, take a look at the Peckwater brands blog. Whether it's understanding consumer habits, improving your efficiency or encouraging repeat custom – get the information and inspiration you need to grow your food delivery business, fast.

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