How Dunkin' Donuts and other fast food delivery could impact family table

Fast food eateries are looking into delivery options. How that might affect not only your family's nutrition, but their time together.

Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS
The signage is pictured at a newly-opened Dunkin' Donuts store in Santa Monica, California, on September 2, 2014.

Which takes longer, scrambling a few eggs and making toast or having a box of Dunkin’ Donuts delivered to your door?

Fast food giants such as Dunkin' Donuts are trying to get a foot in America’s front door with home delivery, which may result in cultural changes that have some family fitness enthusiasts concerned.

Kelly Olexa, CEO and founder of Fitfluential, a popular social media network of fitness experts and enthusiasts, says in an interview that over the past three years she has seen the demand for sustainable organic meats and vegetables originating in the Paleo/Crossfit community develop into a more mainstream healthy eating trend towards home grocery and prepared-meal delivery nationwide that is now being capitalized on by the fast food giants.

“It’s definitely something that’s becoming a trend and growing in popularity and people are really responding to it. I think schedules have gone quite crazy,” Ms. Olexa says. “Over the past three years we’ve seen Amazon start delivering groceries out on the West Coast which then grew into a trend with the Paleo movement spurring on the need for sustainable, organic meat options. We saw a healthier option starting that groundswell and now you’re starting to see Starbucks [testing delivery with its smartphone app], McDonald's, Taco Bell and Chipotle also jumping in on that trend.”

According to the website Statista, revenue for the restaurant industry rose to US$659.31 billion in 2013, $190 billion of which came from the fast food industry. Off-premises dining, which includes takeout and delivery, held an 18 percent market share of the fast food industry in 2013. Also in 2013, “60 percent of Americans admitted to ordering food for takeout or delivery at least once a week, showing demand for the market,” according to the website.

"Delivery is clearly a big opportunity," said Dunkin' Brands CEO Nigel Travis, in an interview with CNBC. "The trend in this country is convenience. I think the next few years you're going to see us get more and more into delivery."

The company is running what it terms a private test of the delivery service as a precursor to creating mobile ordering which is expected to launch in 2016.

Kara Kaufman, press officer for Corporate Accountability International based in Boston says in an interview, “The trend in the US and globally is fast food corporations like McDonald's and others taking advantage of the decreasing amount of time that people have to make food and increasingly using that gap to market their food both to increasingly kids and families.”

“It’s a way to market unhealthy foods to increasingly appeal to kids and parents who are strapped for time to make food for themselves at home,” Kaufman adds.

Olexa believes that there is more than fitness to be lost by ordering Dunkin’ Donuts for a family breakfast on a regular basis, but a culture of family cooking as well.

“I’ve lived that life of ‘I don’t have time for anything. I don’t have time to cook. I don’t have time for my family,' ” Olexa admits. “My health took a back seat and now I’m more aware of what I was doing and how important it is to take time for the things that matter.”

Olexa says she worries about the potential loss of social framework in the family, “When you’re just grabbing this or that and rushing out to your lives, there is no community in the home.”

“Not only is the health of the whole family taking a back seat, you’re missing out on that community time.”

Her suggestion is, “Take a look at your life and start picking it apart, because there are loopholes in there that you can find in your day where you actually can find the time to prep a meal or take time with your family to sit down and eat. You CAN do it and it WILL make a huge impact."

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