Better Everyday Takeaway is a project to test the appetite and sustainability of a new kind of takeaway – one that offers a menu of wholesome family meals, in both adult and child portions, sold at £4-5 through online platforms including Just Eat. These meals are intended to replace standard takeaways that contain an average of 1,155 calories, with healthier dishes of under 700 calories. The brand and menu are designed to appeal to families on a lower income, who need access to convenient, affordable food their kids love.
May – July
Shift establishes a kitchen to run operations from, develops its menu with support from Food Innovation Solutions - an organisation that develops creative and unique recipes for different markets - and a chef who works with Jamie Oliver. It develops the brand and sets up a team to cook the orders.
Aug – April
Service launches on Just Eat. They provide marketing support (street advertisements and targeted emails). Shift and Just Eat track who’s buying the meals, what they’re buying and ask for feedback as as the menu offer and marketing is refined.
May 2020 – May 2021
The trial ends and we evaluate the project and share key lessons. Shift looks for new ways to reach its target audience, utilising evaluation data to market to new audiences and build sales volume.
June 2021 onwards
Shift refines its business plan and strategy for becoming a sustainable business.
Working closely with families and partners including food manufacturers and retailers, local businesses and health services, we set out to develop a concept for an alternative takeaway service. The ambition was to provide tasty, affordable family meals that are healthier than the current options available. We tested and validated this through focus groups and online analysis.
A 10-week prototype trial of this concept took place in Birmingham in 2018 where Shift tested and measured the approach, including percentage of orders that came from the areas with most families on a low income (88%). It also tracked the frequency of orders per family (all ordered three or more meals in a month), and average star rating (6 out of 10). Building on this trial and the data gathered, Shift worked with Food Innovation Solutions (FIS) to finalise the menu for a similar trial in Lambeth and Southwark in spring 2019. The challenge – to create meals with a significant calorie reduction compared to average takeaway meals of a comparable price.
FIS specialise in creating new recipes for specific markets and supporting businesses to reduce costs. They provided guidance on ways to make meals that were tasty, affordable and would appeal to both adults and children. Families on a low income with children under 16 make up around 22% of the total population of Lambeth and Southwark, and most order takeaway meals at least once a week. We were confident that there would be a high demand if we got the menu and brand right.
A lot of work went into balancing the quality of the meals against low cost facilities and ingredients that would keep customer prices down. A central kitchen was hired to prepare the bulk of the meals, with cooking and delivery from Harry’s Kitchen, a shared space in Herne Hill. Next a team was built to work in both kitchens, including a chef who used to work with the Jamie Oliver Foundation.
We knew that a strong brand and successful marketing drive were crucial to the success of this concept, so design and advertising were prioritised alongside the development of the meals themselves. Shift conducted market research and extensive user testing over several months, landing on a fun, family-friendly brand personality.
With high quality, colourful imagery and a focus on taste (the tagline is ‘All together tastier’) the matter of health is not an obvious part of the brand's identity. This was a deliberate decision made during the development of the takeaway, with affordability and taste taking priority over calories for busy families on low incomes. 88% of people surveyed during a recent workshop said that serving tasty food is what would encourage them to try a new takeaway, and 80% identified cheap food as the key driver.
Just East were chosen as the delivery platform, a highly recognisable brand and one of the most popular takeaway services among families. Shift worked with them to develop a marketing plan, including digital ads, social media, posters and flyers in Lambeth and Southwark.
So far the reviews have been positive, with customers enjoying the value as well as the taste. Evaluation of current marketing activity will be used to improve the offer and build sales by extending to new audiences, as well as building loyalty with existing customers.
Takeaways used to be an occasional treat. Now families are eating ready-made meals regularly during the week as they balance busy lives and the rising cost of food shopping. But takeaways are still a treat in the sense that they’re largely calorie-rich and nutrient poor. This is not the case for every takeaway restaurant in the country, but research shows takeaway food reflects and compounds inequality, dominating areas with the lowest incomes with low cost, low quality food that has highly negative nutritional effects.
According to research by Shift, fried chicken sales grew by 36% from 2003 to 2008 and many of the new high street outlets are located near schools. A fast food restaurant within 0.16km of a school is associated with at least a 5.2% increase in rates of obesity among 15-16 year olds. The ambition is for the new offer to redress this balance and provide a healthy weekday alternative.
We are beginning to accumulate important data, insights, and a broad and diverse network of partners, that demonstrate the role takeaway food plays in people’s lives and the impact it has on their health. What we’ve learned informs the proposition for the Better Everyday Takeaway project, in particular:
We are in a unique position to prove to the market that it’s possible to create a profitable business that delivers healthy, tasty and affordable takeaway meals. We understand that the challenge centres less on lack of knowledge or motivation among families, but more on lack of time, money and facilities.
Shift is an award-winning charity that designs products and builds social ventures to help solve social problems. They bring their expertise in service design, brand and marketing, partnership development and evaluation to this project to help tackle the challenge of producing healthy, tasty, affordable food options. This new takeaway service will operate within a complex, competitive and rapidly changing industry and the role of established partners is critical. Shift can secure significant support from major partners like Just Eat, as well as commitments from Sainsbury’s and Google.
In order to determine the viability of this concept we need to gather as much data as we can about the families we reach and how they’re impacted. We are aiming to demonstrate that it’s possible to run a healthy, affordable takeaway, and that there is high enough demand to make it sustainable. We are aiming to serve over ten thousand meals to children in the first two years, each with at least 655 fewer calories than an average takeaway. If achieved, this will result in an estimated 5,564,815 calories reduced amongst children in Lambeth and Southwark.
Some of our key measurables will include:
Portfolio Manager: Matt Towner