Off-premise food quality is more important than ever.

The state of takeout and delivery today looks very different than it did before COVID-19. In a survey by Datassential, 62 percent of restaurant operators’ revenue came from off-premise sales in November 2021. When compared to pre-COVID figures of 42 percent, it becomes clear just how dramatically the landscape has changed in a short time.

Many operators—and consumers—have come to rely on takeout and delivery. The same Datassential survey found that 38 percent of operators believe their business wouldn’t even be viable today without off-premise sales. (Only 15 percent said this pre-COVID.) Likewise, consumers are choosing to order out in record numbers—nearly 40 percent of all consumers said they get food delivery at least weekly.

Takeout and delivery revenue streams are critical now, but they come with operational challenges. One of the biggest is ensuring that food consumed off-premise has the same quality customers enjoy in the dining room. Datassential has found that 92 percent of consumers expect food delivered to them to be prepared with the same level of care as when they dine in-person—but with persistent labor shortages, that can be difficult.

What defines a great takeout or delivery experience for customers? It’s simple.

“When you order takeout or delivery, you want to get food that is actually hot, the right texture, and with the same flavors you’re accustomed to when you eat on-premise,” says Chef Mark Slutzsky, director of culinary for North America at McCain Foods.

If customers receive food that doesn’t meet their expectations, it’s easy to post a bad review.

“When you order takeout, you want to get food that is actually hot, the right texture, and with the same flavors you’re accustomed to.”

ReviewTrackers recently found that more than 63 percent of consumers read reviews on Google before deciding to visit a business, followed by about 45 percent who look at Yelp. Restaurants need to nail takeout and delivery every time.

To help achieve that, operators can take a deep dive into packaging and consider options that might hold temperature better, save labor, or be more environmentally friendly. Slutzsky also recommends getting creative with sauces and topical applications in trending flavors to build excitement around takeout and delivery. Products like McCain SureCrisp™ fries can help ensure a fresh-out-of-the-fryer taste that are delicious anywhere.

Lefty’s Cheesesteak, a Detroit-area franchise, used to see a lot of complaints about their fries not holding up during transport. “I listen to my customers,” says Sam Berry, owner and founder. “So I tried about 30 different types of fries to find something better, and McCain SureCrisp™ fries blew all of them away. They’re very flavorful, they hold temperature, and they’re very consistent. We got great feedback—people started to ask if we changed our fries, and that was it. We had to bring them in immediately. I don’t know if there’s a better fry out there.”

SureCrisp™ fries are part of McCain’s Good to Go line of products crafted to deliver delicious anywhere. “Consistency is key,” Slutzsky says. “If you use products that work well for both on- and off-premise, you don’t have to worry about a lot of the quality issues that come with takeout and delivery. Especially with labor challenges today, you need products you can count on.”

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By Kara Phelps

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