Agency France Press – ‘Ghost kitchens’ boom in Asia as pandemic sparks huge demand
In an industrial unit on the outskirts of Taipei chefs are plating meals that will never be served in a restaurant: welcome to the world of “ghost kitchens”.
Even before the pandemic sent an earthquake through the global restaurant trade, the “Amazonification” of commercial kitchens was well underway, but coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions have fuelled explosive growth in Asia.
The recent boom in food delivery apps meant customers were already used to having restaurant quality meals quickly delivered to their homes.
To meet that demand a growing number of restaurants set up delivery only kitchens — also known as “cloud kitchens” — or rented space in ones.
Then the pandemic struck, ending dining out for billions.
“It really drove the whole industry into sort of hyper growth, so that really helped us,” Jason Chen, the chief executive officer of JustKitchen, told AFP.
JustKitchen started operating Taiwan’s first ghost kitchen early last year — now it runs 17 across the island, as well as one in Hong Kong and is aiming to expand into the Philippines and Singapore by the end of this year, he said.
Regional delivery giants like Singapore-based Grab and Indonesia’s GoJek have also jumped on the trend. Grab opened 20 new cloud kitchens in Southeast Asia last year, up from 42 before the pandemic.
The global ghost kitchen industry is expected to grow more than 12 percent each year to be worth some $139.37 billion by 2028, according to a report by Researchandmarkets.com.
Asia Pacific, home to 4.3 billion people, already accounts for some 60 percent of the international market.
For many in the region’s densely populated cities, where living space is at a premium, eating daily from cheap restaurants or food stalls is more affordable and viable than cooking at home.