Coronavirus fears prompt increase in grocery delivery, meal kit sales

Natural product retailers have a variety of options for meeting their customers' needs where they are during the coronavirus crisis: at home.

3 Min Read
Coronavirus fears are sparking increased use of grocery delivery services

As coronavirus spreads through major cities and around the country, some consumers have hit grocery retailers hard, leaving empty shelves in their wake. Others—especially older adults and those with pre-existing health issues—have cocooned in their homes, venturing out only when they absolutely need to shop.

Many, though, are taking advantage of web-based ordering and either picked up their products in the parking lot or had them delivered and dropped on the doorstep. Clearly, consumers who are new to these curbside or home delivery services have had to search the internet to see what's available and how they operate.

SEMrush, a data trends provider, looked at what consumers have been searching for since the coronavirus hit the United States. Grocery deliveries such as Home Chef and Daily Harvest have seen the most increase in searches, most likely because users don’t want other people preparing their food for them. Services that deliver from restaurants, though, have seen a lower increase in searches, presumably because of food safety concerns or restaurants/bars closing because of the virus.

Food/grocery delivery services with the greatest increase in the past two weeks:

  • Daily Harvest – 68.52% increase

  • Uber Eats – 53.97% increase

  • Green Chef – 50% increase

  • HelloFresh – 43.75% increase

  • Grubhub – 37.14% increase

  • Postmates – 32.86% increase

  • Doordash – 30.72% increase

  • Instacart – 28.21% increase

  • Amazon Fresh – 20.27% increase

Meal kits/grocery delivery services with the greatest increase in the past three months:

  • Daily Harvest – 228.36% increase

  • Home Chef – 107.96% increase

  • Green Chef – 90.06% increase

  • HelloFresh – 65.45% increase

  • Blue Apron – 49.59% increase

  • Amazon Fresh – 29 % increase

  • Instacart – 25.27% increase

  • FreshDirect – 22.14% increase

Food delivery services with the greatest increase in the past three months:

  • Postmates – 251% increase

  • Grubhub – 6.53% increase

  • Seamless – 5.98% increase

  • Uber Eats – 2.08% increase

According to Apptopia, grocery delivery apps are being downloaded at record rates. Compared with the average daily download in February, the number of downloads on March 15 increased 218% for Instacart; 160% for Walmart Grocery; and 124% for Shipt, Tech Crunch reports.

Coronavirus is spread through person-to-person contact, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it's unlikely to be transmitted by food, CNN says.

"Contactless delivery" has become the newest delivery concept, as consumers can choose to have the delivery person leave their order on the doorstep, then let the consumer know it's there. This service might be the best chance many restaurants have to continue operating while they are prohibited from opening their dining rooms, reports The New York Times.

The National Restaurant Association estimates restaurants could lose $225 billion and eliminate as many as 7 million jobs by the end of June, according to NBC News.

Although such services can be lifesavers for those who can afford them, some people in quarantine can't even afford groceries. And with school closed, they truly are in desperate need of help.

In Seattle, Washington, Denise Alexander launched a Facebook group, Quarantined, I need help!, to connect low-income families with volunteers and donors. In just one week, the group made at least 50 deliveries, Alexander told The Guardian.

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