Food delivery services for offices up

by Shinichi Tokuda

Kyodo

With workloads at offices growing as a result of job cuts amid the weak economy, food service companies are seeking to capitalize on an increasing need among workers to use time and money efficiently.

Yasuhiro Yamamoto, a 46-year-old who runs a management consulting business, is often too busy with clients to spare time for lunch, so he uses the hamburger delivery service of McDonald’s Japan once a week to eat at his office in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

The Mac Delivery service receives orders from customers by phone or online and delivers them in insulated bags.

The service is “convenient and inexpensive” and most orders are delivered on time, Yamamoto says.

McDonald’s Japan began the delivery service in December 2010. By the end of last year it was available at some 20 outlets in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Orders are accepted until 10 p.m. Because the minimum amount is ¥1,500, plus a ¥300 delivery fee, most of the orders are placed by small groups of people, not individuals.

Though many deliveries are made to households, orders from offices are increasing, according to officials of McDonald’s Co. (Japan) Ltd.

The service has “stimulated new demand, as offices are more concerned about using time efficiently,” one of them said. McDonald’s Japan plans to introduce the service at 250 restaurants in 2013 and eventually increase the number to 1,500 in a nationwide network.

Other fast-food restaurant chains are also launching delivery services amid the shrinking domestic restaurant market.

Nestle Japan Ltd. began a campaign last fall to place Nescafe Barista machines offering five types of instant coffee, including espresso, at offices in exchange for replies to its questionnaires. A cup of black coffee costs only ¥14.

Yoshiko Haraguchi, a 45-year-old clerical worker at an insurance agent in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, says she gets a few cups of coffee from the machine each day at lunchtime and during breaks with colleagues.

Her company pays for costs related to the machine. “Thank God, we don’t have to pay at all,” Haraguchi adds.

While Nestle Japan has sold more than 1 million of the machines to households, the campaign is aimed at further stimulating demand for coffee.

“Offices are expected to consume 10 times more coffee than households per machine,” says Masayasu Tsuda of the beverage business section at Nestle Japan.

The company plans to sell 100,000 units to offices in 2013. “As the market for instant coffee has been flat over the past few years, we would like to help it grow” with the machine, Tsuda says.