Toronto-area grocery delivery service Instabuggy is expanding its operation to include prepared foods from partners including FreshCo, Galati Market Fresh and Summerhilll Market.
The one-year-old service is now offering more than 400 pre-prepared food items including 61 lunch items, 129 salads and sandwiches, and 102 dinner items. The items range from a $38 steak and mushroom pie from Summerhill Market to a $9.26 Montreal smoked meat sandwich.
“We realized that there was a large demand for prepared gourmet meals,” says Instabuggy co-founder Julian Gleizer, citing the rise of services such as Plated and Blue Apron, which deliver portioned ingredients for chef-inspired recipes.
“It’s that battle for time, the service is all about convenience,” he adds. “Once their order is placed, people can have it delivered in as little as one hour, as opposed to a Tuesday or Thursday to get your packaged box and then start reading recipes and instructions on how to prepare it.”
Gleizer said the service is addressing growing customer demand for convenience foods that are higher in quality than typical fast-food fare. While the meals aren’t prepared to order, Gleizer said they are prepared that day and feature higher-quality ingredients.
The service aligns with the growth of the so-called “Grocerant” trend, with The NDP Group’s recent report A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating, indicating that in-store dining and take-out of prepared foods from grocers has increased nearly 30% in the U.S. since 2008 – accounting for 2.4 billion foodservice visits and US$10 billion in spending last year.
The service also puts Instabuggy in competition with other services like Uber-Eats, which launched a standalone app in Toronto late last year and expanded its delivery hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Instabuggy has a minimum order fee of $35, with delivery fees ranging from $5,99 for orders between $60.01 and $80, and $9.99 for orders between $35 and $60.
“The majority of the volume is for dinners, because anywhere you go today and buy a prepared chicken and a side, it’s going to cost you $25-$35,” says Gleizer, who says that the most popular items include soups and salads, stuffed chicken breasts, beef shepherd’s pie and short ribs.
Gleizer says that a typical dinner order for prepared foods is “north of $80,” which often includes two meals and is in-line with purchasing prepared items at the grocery store. He says that the growth for Instagbuggy’s prepared foods business is following a similar trajectory to that of its grocery delivery business.
While $35 plus a delivery fee might seem exorbitant for lunch, Gleizer said that many Instabuggy users are tacking it onto a standard grocery order and/or eliminating delivery fees by placing multiple orders in the office environment. The company is also implementing a system in which it will piggyback lunch deliveries on existing grocery deliveries, enabling it to waive the delivery fees for lunchtime customers.
Users of the service range from people ordering for elderly relations to parents and working millennials who don’t have time to shop. “It’s pretty much everybody,” says Gleizer.