UK Markets closed

Takeaways could become cheaper than home cooking as robots take over, says UBS

Tim Wallace
Robot chefs are very specialised currently but could form a major part of food preparation in future - AP

Takeaway food could become cheaper than home cooking by 2030 as robots take over preparation and deliveries are undertaken mainly by drones.

The food ordering business is booming thanks to a combination of smartphone apps, which make purchases quick and easy, and changing attitudes among millennials towards eating. 

Analysts at investment bank UBS believe that the global culinary revolution could go much further, forcing the cost of takeaways down so low it will become more affordable to order food to your house than cooking at home.

The first big shift will come in the form of dedicated outlets – so-called “dark kitchens” which only serve takeaway customers and do not have the expense of running a sit-down restaurant. Rising demand means these sites can offer a wide range of food efficiently, cutting costs by 25pc compared to a restaurant-delivered meal. Automating cooking using robots – which currently perform limited tasks such as mixing food or flipping burgers – could cut costs by another 10pc by 2030, UBS estimates. Drone delivery could bring down expenses further.

Millenials are particularly keen to order takeaways which could be a major demographic shift for the food industry

“Combined, this could mean the total cost of production of a professionally cooked and delivered meal could approach the cost of home-cooked food, or beat it when time is factored in,” said the report, written by Chris Grundberg and another 11 analysts. Add in the cost of a kitchen and living off cheap deliveries becomes even more appealing, raising the prospect of a world without kitchens – freeing up space and cutting housing expenses.

Automation and specialisation is bringing down the cost of buying in meals
Deliveroo squares up to Just Eat with dramatic UK expansion plans

The analysts compare this to the revolution in clothing. The report said: “A century ago, many families in now-developed markets produced their own clothes. Purchasing pre-made clothes was prohibitively expensive for most, and the skills to produce clothing existed at home.”