Food services have come to represent one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and this is particularly true in the Middle East. A recent report by PwC estimates that the regions online food service sector will reach a staggering USD218 million by 2020. With such a large amount of money up for grabs it’s not surprising that a range of companies are flooding into the market.
At PAYFORT we are always excited to see such strong growth in a Middle East sector but lately we’ve been even more excited to see some of the innovative ways companies are capitalizing on this emerging market.
This week we’re profiling a few of the most innovative food based start-ups around, Yumamia, EasyPan, and Tastecapade to see how they’re using new ideas to take advantage of the online food boom.
Yumamia is a place where home cooked meals meet a busy lifestyle. The platform puts users in contact with a network of talented home chefs eager to prepare some incredible dishes. To order simply log on to their site, pick a meal, and leave the rest to Yumamia; the chef prepares your food and Yumamia delivers it right on time.
We sat down with Belal El Borno from Yumamia to learn a little more about their experience in the online food delivery business.
What Inspired Yumamia?
The inspiration for Yumamia was the growing number of friends & colleagues we know who do not have time to cook for their families due to their hectic work schedule. Despite their best efforts to cook healthy and wholesome food for their families they eventually resort to ordering in from delivery restaurants which usually offer innutritious & expensive food.
And on the other hand, there are thousands of talented home cooks that would love to make a living from their passion for cooking but lack the skills and knowhow to get started and get customers, so we found the need to step in and create a reliable, safe & convenient service for both ends.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle for online delivery in the region is?
The major obstacle for online delivery is the cost of transportation. This is especially true with online marketplaces where the logistics are very complex due to vendors/cooks/suppliers being located in different areas. In our case for example most of the time our customer and cook are less than 5 kilometres away from each other but the delivery guy has to drive around 25km to reach his pickup location which obviously impacts the cost dramatically. I think there is a major opportunity for same day, location based on demand delivery service.
Easy Pan offers users a similar home cooked meal experience; only this time the users have to roll up their sleeves and become the chef. To get started users login at easy-pan.com and select the meal they want to cook. From there your ingredients are packed up and shipped straight to your door.
To get so more insight on how this unique approach fits into the food delivery landscape we spoke with Khaled Attallah of Easy Pan.
What Inspired Easy Pan?
Easy Pan was inspired by a real life problem of one of the partners when she was invited to one of her friends’ dinner gathering and was helping in preparing the meals. The planning, shopping, and preparing part for the meals was time consuming and an experience she didn’t want to go through again.
So we thought there must be a better solution that not only eliminates the hassle of the home cooking experience and let’s chef’s focus their energy on preparing a delicious meal. The result was Easy Pan, a recipe kit delivery service that provides you with various exotic monthly recipes and delivers fresh pre-portioned ingredients to your door step with step-by-step recipe cards that let just about anyone create delicious meals.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle for new businesses in the region is?
One of the biggest challenges in the region for any start-up is the premature entrepreneurial ecosystem. Start-ups during the early stages are always seeking key growth enablers like mentorship and funding.
However, incubators & investors in the region are still not confident enough to get involved in the early stages of a start-up to accelerate the growth and build momentum. This by default hinders the growth potential for many start-ups in the region.
Tastecapade is the region’s first culinary tour booking service dedicated to bringing food lovers and delicious life experiences together. Whether you classify yourself as a hard core foodie or you’re simply looking for some unique (and food focused) travel, tastecapade is a service you should be aware of.
We sat down with Mary from Tastecapade to see how their food focused experiences fit into the Middle East’s food services landscape.
What Inspired Tastecapade?
I’m a big foodie who loves to travel and explore countries in the most non-touristy way, like a local. Another favourite activity is to have a cooking class wherever I go to learn how to cook the cuisine.
I always found it hard to book such activities because most of the sites did not have a proper booking system; communication was just done by email. Most of the time I never got a response, and if I did, it would be after I traveled and returned home! So I decided, why not make a portal that combines food experiences providing users with one place where you can book and get a confirmation instantly.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Tastecapade in the region is?
I would not call it an obstacle, but more of a challenge. As food tourism is a relatively new concept, I’ve found it requires a lot of education regarding food tourism, food tours, etc. Yes, people travel (and often spend 1/3 of their money on food) and food can be a major factor in selecting a destination, but people still are getting familiar with fact that there are food related activities which are informative, educational, and of course, filling.
The Future of Food Services in the Middle East
The take-up rate of new food based services like Yumamia, Easy Pan, and Tastecapade across the region suggests that a fairly large portion of the population sees value in easier and unique food services.
With people busier than ever been, services that free up a few spare minutes or allow them to escape the weekly grind all together are becoming increasingly popular. This coupled with estimated 6.8% annual growth in the Middle East food service sector means food services here to stay. Companies that find innovative ways to capitalize on this growth have a bright future in the region.
What have your experiences been like with the Middle East’s new food services? Be sure to leave us a comment below or reach out on twitter to share your story. And, if you have any questions for Yumamia, Easy Pan or Tastecapade make sure you send them a tweet @, @ or @