Pre-picked food deliveries, such as those offered from Hello Fresh and Gousto have shot up in popularity over the past 2 months. Instead of flocking to the supermarkets and hand-selecting our foods, we are relying on the support of chefs who pre-plan and pre-weigh all of our ingredients. While there is an increase in convenience here, it also raises a unique selection of risks and challenges that need to be considered on both sides – by the end customer and the supplier. In this guide, we’ll go over those challenges and the reason why it pays to work with an experienced, professional temperature-controlled logistics service.

Why Have Pre-Picked Food Deliveries Increased In Popularity?

The increase in popularity for the food delivery sector comes largely down to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the world shut down and people began to restructure their lives to prevent exposure, more and more people turned to home delivery services. Whether this meant click and collect or direct delivery from their closest supermarket, or in our case, pre-picked food deliveries, this offered a chance to collect food quickly before returning home. Statistics show that food delivery users rose to 22.5 million in the early months of 2020 showing a 9.8% increase year on year.

Pair this with an increase in day-to-day activities and it’s no surprise these pre-picked kits have become so highly favoured. While people turned their living rooms into classrooms, offices, gyms and more, the number of hours in the day shortened. So did the time we had available to meal plan and weigh out all of the ingredients. Instead, we craved convenience and while takeaways also saw a significant uplift (76% increase for Just Eat alone), many took their minds away from the stress of the world and focused on the health of their bodies instead.

When we rely on businesses that choose our meals and send us the exact quantity of ingredients, we take ourselves away from the ever-present supply chain issue and instead discover a world where waste is reduced and flavour prioritised. Even once restrictions were lifted and people began to step out into the world, we still leant on these options for convenience and demand continues to stay strong.

What Are The Challenges?

Food deliveries are, by no means, a new venture. The UK has been delivering food to people’s doorsteps for many, many years. However, with more companies branching into these markets in response to the demand, the main challenges surround food safety. With new businesses seeking to keep costs low, many opted for non-chilled courier service or delivery via mainstream postal services instead.

To maintain the freshness and safe nature of raw meats, temperature-controlled packing was used instead. Gousto, for example, uses ice packs and biodegradable Woolcool to keep meats and fresh foods cool. Hello Fresh uses insulated cardboard boxes, as do Mindful Chef. This is great if the delivery process goes smoothly and the recipient is there to receive the box upon delivery. The raw meats and dairy products can be transported from the controlled environment directly into the fridge, reducing the damage caused by fluctuating temperatures.
However, on many occasions and especially now that more people are going back into the office, deliveries are being made when homes are vacant. Boxes are left in pre-approved delivery locations and left for several hours before they are collected. The packaging solutions used are designed to accommodate these. But external elements will impact these – especially during the warmer months and depending on where the boxes are left. Chilled goods should never exceed 8°C – after this point, the risk of spoilage significantly increases.

How To Minimise These Risks

Couriers who sit outside of the temperature-controlled sector are ill-equipped with the right technology or experience to support these means. The best way to deliver raw foods and goods is with a keen eye on timing. The goods need to be delivered to the end customer at a time when they will be in and able to maintain the ideal temperatures.

All chilled goods need to be kept at temperatures under 8°C while frozen foods need to have an internal temperature lower than -12°C or lower to maintain integrity, quality and reduce the risk of organism growth. Tailored vehicles, including those owned by us at Iceotemp, are converted with dual evaporators that help to maintain exacting specifications. An abundance of transcan temperature monitoring equipment fitted inside the vehicle can be monitored at our depot. They also feature state-of-the-art navigation, allowing us to track and monitor the journey of goods and ensure no fluctuations that could impact the goods inside. Two way messaging systems support the drivers, advising of any upcoming traffic delays or complications that could lengthen their journeys.

Temperature-controlled couriers come with an added price tag but there is a significant reason for that. Instead of simply taking delivery from A to B, they provide the technology and support to ensure it stays fresh at all times. This protects the safety and health of your customers while also ensuring your brand becomes known for its quality and a keen eye for detail. Minimising risk here means working with the best partners, building a structured logistical plan and having backup solutions in place to significantly reduce the chance of mistakes.

Trusting In Iceotemp

As one of the leading distribution companies for temperature-controlled goods, our goal is to provide round-the-clock delivery and collection services while maintaining our diligent teams on the road. With our Somerset-based depot and 20 vehicles ranging from small 1 pallet/300kg vans up to 18T 14 pallet/8000kg HGV lorries, we’re capable of meeting the needs of your business as it grows and expands. If you’re considering launching a food delivery service or need to upgrade the current logistics, get in contact with us here today and we’ll be happy to help.