Interview

Interview: Understanding the impact of recipe box growth on the delivery market

The convenience of having all the ingredients you need for dinner delivered to your door was a key selling point for recipe boxes during the pandemic, but as restrictions have now been lifted, it’s clear they have become a staple in the UK’s everyday life. In this interview Carl Moore, COO at Yodel, explains the impact of the trend on the delivery sector.

How has the popularity of recipe boxes driven volumes at Yodel in recent years?

At Yodel we work with a number of recipe box clients who have all experienced significant growth over the last two years. We now deliver over 300,000 food boxes per week compared to around 80,000 pre-pandemic, increasing our overall volume by over 15 million parcels per year.

What challenges are presented by delivering recipe boxes and how have delivery companies had to adapt?

Food boxes are able to go across our automated sortation system easily at Yodel, allowing them to be processed smoothly and efficiently. However, they are not without their challenges, particularly during the delivery stage, where packaging must be robust enough to protect the contents of the box but also have the capability to keep their contents fresh for 24 hours.

The next challenge is the phasing of parcels throughout the week, with nearly 60% of our food box deliveries made on a Monday or Thursday. Increased volume on these days means that we have to be very flexible and agile in terms of staffing across our network, allowing us to ensure that parcels are processed and delivered on time to our customers.

The final challenge relates to food hygiene and waste disposal. We have been handling fresh food boxes for six years now and, working closely with our clients, have strict measures in place to ensure these issues are addressed safely and effectively.

What does the continued growth of this market mean for delivery companies going forward?

With the recipe box market expected to be worth £18bn globally by 2027, delivery companies will need to ensure they have the measures in place to deal with ever increasing demand. Carriers may need to invest further in their fleet to deal with volume growth.

Delivery companies may also need to invest in additional chilled trailers or further integration with their chilled storage facilities across their networks. This would give food boxes a longer shelf life and possibly smooth the flow of volume throughout the week.

What other item categories have seen the biggest increases in recent years?

Aside from flowers and wine, the pet food sector has also seen significant growth over recent years. Whilst most isn’t fresh, the challenges associated with this sector are not dissimilar to food boxes, being large, heavy parcels.

This can cause major problems for carriers but at Yodel we have developed our network to deal with these challenges specifically. This includes the £1m integration of our Merlin2 sortation system at our Shaw facility, which allows us to process larger and heavier items more efficiently.

What impact has the return to the office had on deliveries and what has this meant for logistics companies?

The biggest impact of people returning to the office on deliveries has been the growth in importance of Pick Up, Drop Off locations. Overall parcel volumes have increased by about 20% since before the pandemic, and so people spending the majority of their time at home has allowed carriers to deliver a parcel at the first attempt most of the time. However, as people start to leave their homes again and return to the office, having to make multiple attempts to deliver a parcel could start to put pressure on capacity across the industry.

At Yodel we offer customers the option to send their parcel to one of our 6,000 Pick Up, Drop Off locations if they know they are not going to be at home when we are due to deliver. The diversion of a parcel to a pickup location after just one home delivery attempt will increasingly become the norm for all carriers who offer this service going forward. I also think we will see the greater integration of technology which allows customers to update their designated ‘safe place’ if they are not at home at the time of delivery, as well as providing live updates on the status of their delivery.