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The Top 5 Challenges with Food Delivery

The Top 5 Challenges with Food Delivery
Female hand holding smartphone and ordering food via a restaurant app

Food delivery is still relatively new and has exploded due to apps such as Favor and Uber Eats. Consumers are also going online to order a variety of groceries. Additionally, e-retailers have come to the market with other food delivery options with products such as meats, candy, and ice cream. This is just the beginning for food delivery.

This is all in response to consumer demand. How we spend our days greatly impacts our time available for grocery shopping. Many people simply don’t have time to make it to the grocery store. Those who do have the spare time often opt to spend it with family or being engaged in a hobby, preferring to have their food delivered.

In addition to wanting to save time, consumers are also looking for ways to save money. When a company can make their products easy to access and cost-effective in the consumer eye, the brand value goes up. Here are the top 5 challenges that food delivery, food e-commerce, and e-grocery stores are facing when it comes to packaging.

Regulations and Safety

Food and beverage is a highly regulated industry, and for good reason. We rely on the government to make sure we are protected when it comes to the foods and other products that we ingest. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the labeling and other laws surrounding all food-contact materials. When foods are being shipped, there are additional regulatory concerns for keeping foods safe.

Smart packaging technology is key to the growth of the online grocery market. With the smart packaging technology that is available today, manufacturers are able to track each individual package and monitor how it fares through the fulfillment process. This gives food manufacturers the ability to learn more about the products that they are shipping to make improvements and develop new solutions. It also enables companies to respond more efficiently to recalls. Learn more about smart packaging technology.

Maintaining Temperature and Freshness

Keeping the quality and freshness of food delivered is the key to keeping customer loyalty. Customers have endless options when it comes to products, particularly in the food space, so it is important to make conscious efforts to ensure the freshness of the food. Food products undergo much stress during transit due to the vibrations and bumps on the ground. Innovative packaging products have emerged as a solution to keeping foods fresh and unaltered during transit.

Another issue that emerges during transit is temperature. Seasonality and location (origin and destination) can both affect the temperature during transit. Cold chain technology offers a way for frozen products to stay at a safe temperature.


One issue that food delivery companies face is speed. This is twofold: (1) consumers are putting high pressure on companies to respond quickly and ship immediately; (2) if the food products are kept in the supply chain for too long, their shelf life after making it into the consumers hands diminishes. Many perishable food items can’t sustain being in processing and transit for more than a few days without compromising the quality for the customer.

Another area where speed is a concern is with restaurants delivering food through apps such as Favor and Uber Eats. Most customers who are ordering from an app want to have food in their hands in under an hour, or they will turn to other options. This requires sourcing drivers that are close to the restaurant and pairing customers with restaurants that are nearby. Another way restaurants have prepared for the influx of to-go orders is by having pre-packaged to-go items in single-serve packaging products.

One solution to getting food products to customers quickly is through omni-channel, or ship from store, fulfillment. This involves shipping goods to customers from nearby stores. Essentially, brick-and-mortar stores also function as a mini-fulfillment center. This gets the products to the customer quickly and cuts down on costs across the board.

Adapting the Current Model

Walmart, Target, and Wholefoods are just a few of the big names that are offering online grocery shopping and grocery delivery. This puts pressure on other chains and stores to adapt their current sales and fulfillment model to match the competition. For all companies, this creates an opportunity to reimagine how the current model operates.

For example, companies have had to install separate freezers and storage areas for to-go and grocery delivery foods. Grocery stores have also integrated special parking for their grocery fulfillment customers.

Mixed Orders

When it comes to shipping foods and groceries, another challenge that companies face is that many orders have a variety of different products. A grocery order can include items that are frozen in addition to items that need to stay at room temperature. A restaurant to-go order could include food items that need to stay hot as well as entrees and desserts that need to stay cold.

This is where packaging companies come in to play. At Hughes, we have been responding to the unique challenges that come with food packaging for years and have developed solutions to help restaurants and grocery retailers respond to the new consumer demands. Contact a Hughes packaging expert to learn more about how we can help you with our food packaging.