1.1 Definition and scope of the study
The market of "ghost kitchens", or more commonly called "dark kitchens", concerns food providers essentially turned towards the sale of home-delivered dishes. Unlike traditional restaurants, it is impossible to order and take your meal on site. The order is done on online applications such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo, etc. These kinds of brands are essentially virtual in that they are impossible to access. Dark kitchens offer all types of cuisine, from sushi to burgers, as well as French specialties and foreign cuisines.
The global dark kitchens market is a very dynamic segment of the restaurant market, as in 2019 it represented 5% of the commercial restaurant industry. Some dark kitchens markets are more mature than others such as the Chinese or Indian market, where there are 7,500 Chinese dark kitchens and 3,500 Indian dark kitchens in the world.
The number of dark kitchens players keeps increasing year after year, so much so that some experts believe that the market will soon be saturated. In France alone, by the end of 2020, there were already more than 1,500 dark kitchens on the Uber Eats app and more than 500 on the Deliveroo app. This is why more and more dark kitchens companies are now turning to the franchise business model. These companies support new players who want to enter the home-delivered food business.
As for the French dark kitchens market, it is still growing with, in 2020, a 50% increase in the number of dark kitchens on the Uber Eats app compared to 2019. This market dynamic has obviously been boosted by the health crisis since in 2020, it was almost impossible to go have lunch or dinner in a restaurant. Fundraising to support the development of these new ghost kitchens is increasingly recurrent, like Not So Dark, which raised 20 million euros in 2020 to develop its dark kitchens before then changing the business model to franchising.
1.2 The global market
The global market for dark kitchens is growing rapidly. Already a common practice in early adopter countries like China, the use of dark kitchens exploded during the Covid-** crisis. According to Prnewswire, this market will reach a value of $**.* billion worldwide by ****, meaning the market will almost double in * years.
1.3 The domestic market
The dark kitchens market has experienced an unexpected boom thanks to the Covid-** crisis. Indeed, the closure of restaurants due to various lockdown periods has made meal delivery one of the only two ways for the French to enjoy dishes normally consumed in their favorite restaurants. As we will see in ...
1.4 Entretien avec François Charpy, fondateur de Food, Strategy & Performance
Marine : Bienvenue dans la niche, le podcast qui analyse le marché de niche avec les entrepreneurs qui font bouger les lignes. Je suis Marine et je travaille chez Businesscoot, la start-up qui dépoussière des études de marché. Avant de commencer, abonnez-vous à notre podcast sur Spotify et Apple Podcast. Et ...
2.1 Young and urban consumers
Home delivery appeals most to young urbanites. The difference in consumption frequency is quite striking:
Percentage of French people who have ordered food by delivery at least once France, ****, % Source: ****
The high propensity of young people to order their meals online is promising for the sector since their arrival in the ...
2.2 Spending, frequency of purchase and preferred dishes
The amounts spent by the French are globally lower than €**: **% of orders do not exceed this threshold and **% of orders cost between €** and €**.
Amounts spent on home delivery applications France, ****, % of orders Source: ****
As for purchase frequencies, they vary greatly depending on certain criteria. In fact, according to Snacking, **% of French ...
2.3 Purchase criteria
Although lockdowns have pushed the French to have their meals delivered much more often than before, the reasons for doing so have remained rather stable. In fact, the top reason has always been "to treat yourself." The other two most cited reasons are also encouraging for dark kitchens and the delivery ...
2.4 Demand trends
The professional magazine Hôtellerie Restauration, in its May **, **** edition, dedicates an article to the expectations of young consumers, or GenZ (***). Although they are fond of innovative and gourmet products, and inclined to be tempted by the food trends seen on social networks, these young people are particularly attentive to environmental ...
3.1 Organization of the dark kitchens market
The dark kitchens market is organized in a simple way: virtual restaurants (***) take orders via their website or mobile app.
3.2 Distribution channels for home-delivered meals
According to the Snacking barometer, **% of French people who have their meals delivered do so via platforms. The rest do it either by phone or directly on the restaurants' websites. This proportion has risen sharply, since it was only **% in ****. The leaders are Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat.
Market share ...
3.3 Lower investments and favorable cost structures
The cost structures of dark kitchens are radically different from those of a traditional restaurant. With fewer staff (***), dark kitchens have much lower fixed costs. Let's take as an example the breakdown of Starbucks' costs for a coffee costing £*.*. Let's also keep in mind that Starbucks probably spends much less on ...
3.4 Two different models starting to take hold in the provinces
There are two kinds of dark kitchens in France today, which operate with very different models.
The first one is the most classical: the restaurant prepares its dishes in a ghost kitchen, shared or not, and uses delivery platforms to access its customers. Companies running virtual restaurant brands often operate under ...
3.5 Basic trends that could call into question certain operating mechanisms
The delivery model based on delivery people who have a self-employed status, with almost no guarantee and no safety net, is increasingly problematic. According to a survey made by Ouest France in Nantes, here are the main problems caused by this delivery format:
Registration is long and requires investments: delivery drivers ...
4.1 The market leaders
Three leaders stand out in the dark kitchens market: Taster, Not so Dark and Devor. Having several brands of virtual restaurants, they give other restaurants the opportunity to become franchisees and to cook their dishes by providing them with the necessary equipment. Here are the brands offered by these startups:
Taster: Stacksando: ...
4.2 A sector that attracts investments
According to LSA Conso, the home food delivery sector has raised **% of the €*.* billion invested in foodtech in France in ****, a total of €*** million. The sector's strong potential is attracting investors, who see a low-cost and highly profitable business model. In addition, in ****, several market leaders have also successfully raised significant ...
4.3 Franchising: a turnkey model to supplement restaurant revenues
Taster, like Not so Dark, is increasingly turning to the franchise model. By selling licenses to classic restaurant players, they completely eliminate the need for real estate and reduce their fixed costs. In an interview with the Neorestauration website, Anton Soulier (***) outlines the apparent advantages of becoming a franchisee:
5.1 Current regulation of delivery platforms
Regulations on platforms
The law of orientation of mobilities (***).
In particular, this law intends to impose the following changes:
"Platforms [***] communicate to workers, before each service, the distance covered by this service and the minimum guaranteed price they will benefit from, minus the commission fee". No more accounts suspended for ...
5.2 Law pushes meal delivery companies to reduce disposable packaging
The future anti-waste law for a circular economy contains many, many measures that directly target plastics. In particular, the text begins with two objectives that directly concern them. First, France must aim for ***% recycled plastic by ****. Secondly, the law states that "France aims to end the marketing of single-use plastic packaging ...
5.3 Specific regulations for dark kitchens
Mandatory hygiene training
Operators must enroll in mandatory hygiene training according to Article L. ***-* of the Rural and Maritime Fishing Code. At least one person in the establishment must also follow a special training in food hygiene. [***]
Declaration to the DDPP
Any operator of an establishment producing, handling or storing ...
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