DARK KITCHENS: Changing cities and food consumption world-wide

Two years ago the term “dark kitchen” hadn’t even entered our vernacular here at Climarite, despite having a large customer base in the catering and hospitality industry. Now this concept is popping up right across the UK, driving a sharp rise in demand for refrigeration equipment and bespoke cold rooms in this emerging subsector. 

What exactly is a dark kitchen?

Dark kitchen is the term most commonly used for the premises that exists only to cook for delivery – rather than an indoor or sit-down dining experience – but can also be referred to as a ghost / cloud / shadow kitchen. They house multiple chefs cooking various cuisines for a number of different restaurants – all under the same roof. Chances are you’d never know they’re there, but you may spot a queue of eager delivery drivers waiting outside before jumping onto electric bikes, a race to get the food to the customer at its freshest.  Popular food delivery apps include Deliveroo, Ubereats and Just Eat.

What’s triggered this phenomenon?

While the concept was steadily growing pace pre-pandemic, Covid-19 created a sudden boom in the demand for at-home gourmet dining – for example, since 2020 in London alone restaurants are now selling almost a million extra meals every week. Consumer expectation has grown considerably during the last couple of years – we want restaurant quality food, ordered at the touch of a button and delivered quickly to the comfort of our own home. McKinsey now estimates the global food delivery market to be worth over $150bn.

Is this a good thing for the industry?

Absolutely, as the market is expanding at a rapid rate creating huge opportunity. Many of our catering and hospitality customers are diversifying and expanding their businesses to satisfy the appetite of their customers, those who are fastest to adapt are the ones benefitting most. Advantages are plentiful and include low investment, overhead reductions (e.g. lower rent and business rates), quick to launch and less labour requirements. We’re seeing a similar picture in the USA and Europe but here in the UK we have the infrastructure, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit to adapt quickly.

CUSTOMER CASE STUDY

Climarite was appointed to install walk-in chill rooms at a dark kitchen set up by Food Stars UK in Manchester, which now houses 23 gourmet take away businesses. 

One of the refrigerated rooms was custom-made to fit into a large storage container located outside, a clever and seldom used solution to maximise space. The other was located inside the premises for quick access. Both units incorporated market-leading equipment including Danfoss Optyma Plus condensing units with Luve evaporators. Climarite also selected Danfoss Optyma control panels for accurate temperature monitoring and optimum protection of perishables. Both systems come with a two year parts and labour warranty offered by Climarite, as well as a free service after six months. 

Dark stores

Food retail is another sector experiencing exponential growth with online grocery delivery – “dark stores” are not only becoming a more prominent in existing supermarkets but we’re also seeing more dedicated food packing warehouses. Getir is an excellent example of this, having already opened 115 dark stores across 20 different cities in the UK despite only arriving on British soil last year. 

Climarite can supply, install, service and maintain any type of refrigerated cabinet. All our systems are custom-built to satisfy all client requirements. For further information about bespoke refrigeration systems and chill rooms contact Patrick at Climarite: 01704 630 515 / patrick@climarite.com

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