With the locking down and reopening of hospitality & leisure, businesses have had to get creative in order to maintain custom, profits and overall revenue. We have seen gyms running outdoor exercise classes and breweries offering home delivery, but the largest change seen across an entire sector is the overnight conversion of restaurants into takeaways.

This overnight substitution of service was rapid and gave food businesses a much-needed lifeline and cash injection during a very difficult year. With it came a necessity to change staff rolls, working mechanisms and serving style. Delivery drivers were needed, food required a quicker turnaround time and their presentation was no longer for aesthetic but simply function; namely delivery.

As suppliers to the numerous industries, including food catering and takeaway we are well placed to appreciate the needs and wants of establishments looking to offer quick service food to customers. So, allow us to discuss the various different options available to businesses who may be looking to make their newfound takeaway option a more permanent feature in the coming years.

What kind of food do you sell?

When assessing what kind of disposables you want it is best to review your menu. Consider streamlining your current offering for a takeaway audience. Some may be more difficult to offer in a container than others, those that are should be dropped from your takeaway menu. When offering collection / delivery on orders, you want items which can efficiently be produced by your kitchen staff. For example, steak dishes could pose a particular challenge in aiming to ensure the quality is still present when it arrives with the customer so we wouldn’t advise offering those types of dishes.

In addition, you want items that can be easily packaged inside containers without compromising the quality of the meal. What may be best is to deconstruct the meal, so vegetables and meat are packaged separately allowing for easy packing and transportation of meals. Doing this allows you to also ensure each part is packaged in a way that best suits its needs.

When looking for options to package your food, bagasse containers are a brilliant place to start. With various types to select from you’ll find a range to meets your needs. For the eco-conscious Vegware offer a selection which has numerous environmental credentials including recyclability, biodegradability and compostability (industrial composting). There are also options which are microwaveable too which are great as they allow customers to heat up the food in the container without having to place on a plate and then reheat, saving time and washing up afterwards!

Another two staples which prove themselves favourites amongst takeaway businesses which you may want to consider are leakproof containers and pizza boxes. The latter are self-explanatory and perfect for transporting not only pizza’s but also any large flatbread dishes you may offer. Leakproof containers are great for larger meals that cannot be broken into smaller parts. They are easy to assemble and pack whilst also being a comfortable size to hold so there should be no spillages due to handling errors.

Alliance Online top tip: Equally, like you do with ingredients, approximate how many containers you will need as you don’t want to run out mid-shift.

Lunchtime service

Naturally, we appreciate everything on your menu may not be a hot meal, as such you may not need as heavy-duty disposables as discussed above. If sandwiches, baguettes and wraps are a prominent part of your food offering then cartonboard packaging is a fantastic place to start. Most have multiple environmental features which are great for businesses with green goals and there is a wide selection from simple kraft designs to elegant black options which exude luxury.

Another staple of the lunchtime hour, especially since the recent health trend began are salads. These leafy meals are great for on the go nutrition and as we begin to enter spring they shall become more of a desire for customers. As such, ensure you use a salad box that benefits from a window feature. A key part of prepared lunch food is visual aesthetic as customers are more likely to buy what looks appealing to them. As with the sandwich suggestion above we would recommend cartonboard options like those from PacknWood and Colpac as they are lightweight, benefit from green features and are cost efficient. Equally, if you want to take visuality to the next level clear salad containers are great especially with manufacturers now offering much better quality and environmentally conscious options. One such example are the contour hinged containers from Faerch which are 100% recyclable, made from 90% rPET material and also made from a 100% renewable energy source.

Liquid lunches and drinks

Soups, broths and lobbies have also become a popular menu selection since the pandemic started as they are quick and easy to make whilst also being simple to prepare. Furthermore, in the build up to the December 26th lockdown legislation coming into play the drop in temperature had bought about a want by customers for food stereotypically deemed warming and hearty.

When buying soup containers, we would recommend you check the packaging is a soup specific product. As wholesalers in the food catering industry we appreciate some items can be passed off as dual purpose (drinks / soup container) but where soup is concerned you need to ensure what you’re buying is up to the task. Some manufacturers claim their hot cups will also hold soup, and this sometimes is not the case. Soup’s with a denser consistency can breakdown hot cup membranes and end up leaking at seam points, equally the weight in general can prove too much for cups designed for hot drinks.

Staying with hot drinks, when buying cups with the intent of serving hot beverages, make sure they meet the requirements needed. Preferably for hot cups we would suggest a double walled cup as the dual-layered design makes sure the container is sturdy and sufficiently built for the job whilst protecting the customers hands from potential burns. In addition, double wall cups also help to keep hot drinks insulated keeping them warmer for longer.

Finally, there is cold drinks. Admittedly cold drink sales may dip during the current winter months, but businesses may want to begin looking to the summer trade and planning ahead. Last year’s summer was hot and sunny and despite the lockdown restrictions in effect, going out was still permitted for exercise and walking. As such businesses may want to begin investing in their cold drink’s menu now with a view to capitalising on the potential repeat walking market which last summer produced.

The cutlery conundrum

Cutlery can present a problem with the simple question of do you really need to offer it? We at Alliance would say if you are a restaurant which is presently operating under the government restrictions and as such are just offering delivery or collection then there may be no need. We confess it could be within your interest to have some at the front desk should people want to take them, but most will be ordering with a view to eat at home.

However, that being said it doesn’t mean should you wish to continue your takeaway option after the various restrictions have been lifted you won’t require them in the future. If you are positioned near a popular walkway it could be financially beneficial to offer takeout for those passing by in which case a cutlery option may be a smart move.

Should you be looking to offer cutlery plastic is naturally the most popular being the cheapest to purchase. But, if you want something that’s different we would recommend either opting for biodegradable or wooden cutlery.

Most of our biodegradable options are compostable within 90 days under the correct conditions and offer establishments a sustainable product which can help them achieve their green goals. Equally, these options are normally made from plant-based fibres or other such eco-compounds like Origo. For those who wish to go one step further though our wooden range is even better. Being made from wood means they can be disposed of in compost bins, garden waste bins and other such eco-rubbish areas making them 100% compostable and biodegradable.

So, whether you are looking to serve your full dine in menu to customers for delivery, reinvesting in your current food packaging products or looking to branch out to capitalise on new and emerging trends there is a solution for all. You’ll find a wide selection of disposable options at Alliance Online with great prices on bulk buy options complete with eco-credentials for all products.

Takeaway Containers: Let’s talk about options
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Takeaway Containers: Let’s talk about options
With the food industry still unfortunately limited to delivery or click and collect, we at Alliance Online look at how restaurants can get the most out of their food packaging and what options are available to them.
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Alliance Online
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