- The US is a bigger market but American demand for home delivery is surpassed by those in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia;
- The region’s markets have high levels of competition, which already resulted in Spanish Glovo’s exiting from Brazil and Chile.
Disruption in food service in Latin America is not happening in kitchens, but on the streets. Home delivery sales have quadrupled over the last five years, with the region becoming the second fastest-growing region in the world, after Asia Pacific.
The coronavirus pandemic presents some uncertainties. On the one hand, quarantines and social isolation measures are increasing demand for services, on the other the total number of transactions actually declined last quarter due to many restaurants having completely suspended their operations.
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These are some of the facts presented by the consulting firm Euromonitor International on a new report called “Foodservice Delivery in Latin America: The Search for Growth”.
The region’s markets have high levels of competition, which already resulted in Spanish Glovo exiting from Brazil and Chile last year. And this is also an industry with players in a fierce war for a bigger share of sales, as Brazilian delivery giant delivery iFood announced it had bought a controlling stake in Colombian Domicilios.com, where it will increase the dispute with leader Rappi.
Consumer food service is the second-largest industry in Latin America, reaching $200 billion in 2019, and the food delivery segment already represents almost $30 billion in the region. “Current dynamics, such as socioeconomic factors and the coronavirus pandemic, combined with a strong dining culture are driving demand for delivery in the region,” says Rocío Guzmán, analyst at Euromonitor International.
“Although the United States is a much larger consumer market than those found in Latin America, the US demand for home delivery is surpassed by Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, where it represents a greater proportion of the total food service sales in these countries,” says the report.
Chile, Peru and Mexico
Chile and Peru are relatively new markets for delivery players, and Mexico, on the other hand, shows high demand. However, home delivery sales still represent only a small proportion of total Mexican foodservice sales in comparison to other countries, according to the study.
The study is based on a time frame that ended in December 2019, so it does not capture the COVID-19 pandemic, but it offers some insights into the new scenario. “Restrictions have forced previously offline foodservice establishments to begin utilizing delivery apps in order to continue to function during the pandemic. The Argentinean government has been keen in promoting delivery services as the best measure to stay home”, it says.
Analyzing the market, Guzmán says that “consumers are more faithful to their favorite restaurants than they are to an app. Therefore, exclusivity agreements with local heroes are as important to apps as multinational chains are.”
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According to Euromonitor, apps, restaurants and consumers and even cities in Latin America are still adapting. Players try to generate customer loyalty through periodic discounts, alliances with other brands, consulting for restaurant operators and diversification of services.
“However, market dynamism also brings barriers such as government regulations and financial solvency. The high liquidity injected by investors makes the market open endless opportunities but in the long run, many will not survive”, is one of the study’s conclusions.