Top Food Delivery Trends Taking Over The UAE Restaurant Industry in 2021

Food Delivery Trends of UAE 2021

Online food delivery has become a popular choice for customers post COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the sharp decline in restaurant sales in Q1 and Q2, the UAE restaurant industry rebounded in the last two quarters of 2020 as online sales began to accelerate. The segment has been growing ever since and is expected to introduce new food delivery trends in 2021. According to Statista, the revenue from the online delivery sector in the UAE is anticipated to reach USD 1,219 million in 2021. 

With the expanding food delivery market, the UAE witnessed fierce competition amongst the countless restaurants present there. Competitiveness gives rise to innovation. To gain an edge over each other, restaurants and cloud kitchen brands are introducing novel innovations in how they operate and execute food deliveries, thereby giving rise to various food delivery trends in the country. This article will present the different food delivery trends of 2021 that are likely to flourish in the UAE.

Popular Food Delivery Trends of 2021 That Are Too Hard To Ignore

As more and more restaurateurs are embracing food delivery, it is crucial to follow the trends in the market to not get left behind in the race. Let us look at some of the food delivery trends likely to take over the market in 2021.

1. Rise Of Cloud Kitchens

The pandemic has shut down most dining facilities, leaving the restaurants in dearth. However, online deliveries are a good solution for the restaurants to sustain their business amid the lockdown. Thus, the UAE online food delivery market has seen immense growth since last year. 

Observing the expanding market, the existing and new restaurateurs have now started focussing on delivery-only outlets. Many existing restaurateurs have shut down their outlets and shifted to cloud kitchens while the new ones are looking to invest in the same. According to the UAE Prime Report, more than 70 percent of the restaurateurs are open to investing in cloud kitchens or delivery-only outlets in 2021. Thus, cloud kitchens and online deliveries are the two major players in the UAE restaurant industry.

Cloud kitchens operate solely on food deliveries and do not consist of any dining area. Thus, they immensely cut down the front-of-the-house operational costs, which is a profitable option during the pandemic. Furthermore, they also streamline operations and diminish the costs of setting up a restaurant from scratch. 

2. Health Conscious Eating 

Sitting at home, with months of no outdoor activities, people have now realized how important conscious eating is for their body. They have now shifted from popular delicacies to healthier options. According to Sweetheart Kitchen, a recently established cloud kitchen in Dubai, salad and quinoa bowls were the most popular dishes in the previous year. 

Rising awareness amongst the UAE population has led them to shift to nutrition-rich food options. Restaurants are working to introduce healthier products on their menus with the motive of increasing their sales via food delivery. Thus, chefs can focus on the variety of health-focused dishes they can introduce to their customers this year. 

3. Female Food Delivery Drivers

The female food delivery driver trend is likely to flourish in the UAE. Apart from the menu and food-related aspects, restaurants and food aggregators have also started thinking about gaining an edge through their contributions to social upliftment. Food delivery applications and restaurants are now focussing on breaking the stereotypes of male delivery boys and letting in women for food deliveries with the aim of women empowerment.

Recently, UAE’s first female food delivery driver, Gift Solomon, associated with the restaurant Freedom Pizza, came into the limelight. Food delivery application, Talabat, also announced to employ 300 females by the end of 2021. Thus, female drivers are likely to be part of many restaurants’ food delivery sector this year.

Female Food Delivery Drivers
Source: Khaleej Times

4. Environmentally Sustainable Vehicles For Food Deliveries

Another food delivery trend likely to flourish this year is the introduction of environment-friendly vehicles. To reduce the carbon footprint, restaurants are now aiming to pollute less while they deliver, due to which they have started adopting sustainable methods across their outlets. The practice is expected to gain popularity and be encouraged by the restaurant industry of the UAE.

The UAE’s food delivery industries are now looking to resolve environmental concerns to revamp their position in the market. For instance, The Noodle House, Dubai’s homegrown Asian soul food concept, in partnership with UAE-born One Moto, has recently rolled out an electric bike food delivery fleet in the city. This trend is innovative and a unique way to be back into the business. 

5. Commission-free Model Of Food Aggregators

Due to the pandemic, many restaurants are running low on revenue. Reduced sales and low incoming orders have made it harder for them to revive from the impact of COVID-19. With deliveries constituting the lion’s share of the restaurant’s sales, sharing their cut (usually 20-30 percent of order sales) with the middlemen is often unsustainable. Thus, they have raised their voice against food aggregators in favor of waiving off the commission. 

Food aggregators like Zomato and Careem have decided to rule out the commission, at least for the time being, to help the restaurants thrive in the market and not cause further damage to them. This new business model will help the restaurants sustain their business and give them a fair and square opportunity to grow profitably. Therefore, 2021 is a good year to partner with food delivery apps to grow your business.

Being a restaurateur, one needs to be aware of what is happening in the market. Implementing the trends can put you and your brand in the limelight. Follow these food delivery trends of 2021 to hold your position in the UAE restaurant industry.  


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Nikunj is the Communications Lead at Restroworks, a global leader in cloud-based technology platforms. In his role, he oversees global marketing and branding initiatives for Restroworks across APAC, the Middle East, and the US.


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