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TikTok plans ‘Kitchens’ service that will deliver viral food meals across the US

·2-min read

TikTok is planning to launch a service to deliver food that has gone viral on its app.

The video app is partnering with company Virtual Dining Concepts to create the meals for customers across the United States.

‘TikTok Kitchens’, as it is being called, will launch in 300 locations by the end of next year. The process is like other ghost kitchens – where a centralised location cooks food for a variety of businesses – but the app’s service will apparently use a restaurant’s existing kitchen. Employees on site will provide training, food packaging, and recipes.

The menu will be based on the app’s most viral food trends, such as baked feta pasta, and will change quarterly. If a dish gains popularity, there will be opportunities to add it to the menu. VDC says that all of the items on the menu will need to be tested in advance to “ensure that efficiencies and practicality issues are addressed inside working restaurant kitchens”.

TikTok says it will send part of the profits from the restaurants to the original makers of the dishes. "Proceeds from TikTok Kitchen sales will go to both support the creators who inspired the menu item and to encourage and assist other creators to express themselves on the platform in keeping with TikTok’s mission to inspire creativity and bring joy to its users," TikTok told TechCrunch.

As Bloomberg, which first reported the launch, reports, it is not clear how TikTok will determine who specifically is responsible for the first use of a dish. The names of the dish creators will not be available on the menus.

“Look, you have a platform with a billion viewers monthly who are constantly engaged, as the numbers show,” said VCD Robert Earl. “It’s the first time there’s a brand like this out there – an audience of hundreds of millions of people.”

TikTok has not said how long this business will run for but emphasised to TechCrunch that it is a process to highlight food on TikTok rather than entering the space competitively – calling it a “campaign”.

Ghost kitchens have increased in profitability during the pandemic; however, it does mean relying more on the digital space than the physical one.

“Consumers are trusting [direct-to-consumer brands] based on their digital presence alone and then ordering something that comes straight to their door,” Nikki Freihofer, senior strategist for restaurant consulting firm Culinary Edge, told Eater.

That also means that, if something goes wrong with delivery or cooking, it may be harder to hold the company responsible compared to brick-and-mortar establishments.

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