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The Global food services market is showing a continuous rise and is currently estimated to be at $365 billion by 2030. Since the pandemic hit the world, the food services sector was hit severely with traditional brick and mortar restaurant models having to shut down operations completely. During this time, Cloud kitchens or dark kitchens gained a lot of popularity and attention from the restaurant owners who must move their focus towards online food delivery.
Cloud Kitchens sometimes also known as ‘dark kitchens’ or satellite kitchens are a delivery only model helping restaurants reduce their operational costs. The global cloud kitchen market was valued at 105 Bn in 2019 and is estimated to reach 215 Bn by 2027. Real estate has always held the largest share of expense variable for restaurants. Cloud kitchens help reduce these exorbitant rents by operating from a non-prime location.
Fig 1. Global Food Services Market trend (2019-2027)
Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the existing societal norms and has creating lasting changes to the supply side partnerships as well as how businesses are operating today. With the rise of food delivery apps like Zomato, UberEats, Swiggy, Foodpanda etc. paved the way for cloud kitchens in recent years. The sustainability of cloud kitchens in the long run depends on a lot of factors like partnering with the right restaurants, investments, location, strong business capabilities and a strong online presence.
Increasing millennial population has changed the way people interact, shop online and spend their time. People today want to spend less time waiting in long queues outside restaurants or book in advance, but still want to enjoy food and now more than ever in the privacy of their homes. Cloud Kitchens solely rely on sales coming through an online platform sometimes in partnership with popular delivery apps or might have their own cutting-edge technology in place to reach their customers.
Cloud Kitchen Business Models
There are various cloud kitchen models that exist currently, each fulfilling specific needs of the restaurants with neither of the models currently dominating the market. Some of the other popular business models are:
- Hub and Spoke Model
- Pod Kitchens
- Commissary (Aggregator) Kitchens
- Outsourced Model
- Independent Kitchens
Cloud Kitchen Product Mix
Research suggests that the highest profitable business models are either ones that sell QSR and fast casual or the dining model. However, on close investigation, a correlation between models and their location was established. QSRs tend to have a narrow margin making it profitable for the sellers complimented by the higher order volumes this model attains. The type of clientele that each of these models attract depend on the location of the kitchens. In a commercial setting for example QSRs are preferred more due to their speedy nature of preparation and cheaper prices whereas in a residential area customer prefers more of a full-fledged meal in a more dine in kind of environment.
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