Many Americans already had a habit of ordering carryout or delivery meals from their favorite restaurants. In the COVID-19 pandemic era, more people ordered carryout as a replacement for their former visits to dine-in restaurants. As of the October-November 2021 edition of the Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey, 35% of respondents reported that they had increased their pattern of ordering carryout from a restaurant because of the pandemic and had not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Approximately one-quarter said they were increasingly ordering restaurant meals for home delivery either from a 3rd party app or from the restaurant directly because of the pandemic and had not returned to pre-pandemic habits.
The result of that increased carryout, delivery, and drive-thru ordering was more napkins, straws, plastic utensils, chop sticks, and condiments filling up our junk drawers. With more people ordering carryout or delivery to eat at home rather than on-the-go or at their office, more of us are eating carryout with our own utensils and often on our own plates. While many of us were already used to getting more napkins than we needed with each order, now the utensils, straws, and condiments also stacked up.
One movement looks to deal with that accumulation of carryout paraphernalia… #skipthestuff. This social media movement and the local ordinances that go along with it encourage people to ask restaurants to leave the utensils, napkins, straws, and condiments out of their bags, or to at least ask for only what they need. They also encourage restaurants to see this as an opt-in situation; to ask customers if they want them before automatically tossing them in the bag.
Since most of these items are destined for landfills, more consumers see this as an easy way to use less disposable paper and plastic. Many restaurants – some of which had already limited the inclusion of these items as a cost reduction measure – increasingly make “no utensils”, “no napkins”, and “no condiments” an option on their internet ordering platforms.
Freedonia analysts remain on top of changing consumer habits, supply levels, local regulations, sustainability pushes, cost reduction needs, and other reasons for shifting trends in this area.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly our collection of packaging reports, including Foodservice Single-Use Products and Global Foodservice Single-Use Products. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.