Food Industry Goes Contactless

In an effort to practice social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, many food businesses are offering contactless options for their customers.

For example, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit rolled out contactless delivery across the U.S. and extended its free delivery offer through April 30. Orders will now come presealed upon arrival to help guard against any tampering.

“Guests who order Dickey’s for delivery can have peace of mind knowing their order has been carefully prepared by a certified Pit Master and sealed prior to delivery,” said Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.

Chipotle will also offer free delivery beginning March 15 through March 31. The company introduced a new delivery tracker to provide step-by-step real-time updates, so customers can follow their meals from the restaurant to their location. Prior to placing orders, customers can leave special instructions for delivery drivers in the Chipotle app and to limit direct contact.

In Europe, Takeaway will begin dropping delivery orders at customers’ doors, reported Reuters (March 13). The company distributed antibacterial hand sanitzers to staff and is working with restaurants to ensure other health and safety measures are in place.

UK-based Deliveroo customers will also be able to request a no-contact drop-off service, reported Reuters (March 12). The delivery service already provided restaurants with extra packaging to keep food protected from the virus during the preparation and delivery process.

Meanwhile, Starbucks may offer limited seating or only receive orders via mobile or drive-thru, reported CNBC (March 12). Locations in the U.S. and Canada are preparing to modify operations if needed.

“This means that as we navigate this dynamic situation community-by-community and store-by-store, we may adapt the store experience by limiting seating to improve social distancing, enable mobile order-only scenarios for pickup via the Starbucks app or delivery via Uber Eats, or in some cases only the drive-thru will be open,” CEO Kevin Johnson wrote in a letter to customers.

Moreover, food retailers across the nation are no longer offering food samples in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak, including Big Y Foods Inc., Stop & Shop, Costco, Market Basket, and BJ’s Wholesale Club, reported (March 12). Additionally, self-serve salad, soup, and hot buffet bars are being closed.

Trader Joe’s also suspended food and beverage sampling at all of its stores, reported (March 12). “As this situation has evolved, we have taken increased precautions related to our food and beverage sampling in stores, including our decision to stop the practice until further notice,” Trader Joe’s said in a statement.