Background

E-food: a vision of the future becomes reality

E-food doesn’t just mean ordering your food shopping online and having it delivered to your home. Swiss Post is working on logistics solutions for fresh milk or even full pre-cooked meals. And the right packaging – sustainable, of course.

Fredy Gasser

Food in brown paper bags
Copyright: iStock

The coronavirus pandemic has turned our lives upside down: our working environment, our ways of shopping and our eating habits have all changed drastically. During all of this, one particular branch of e-commerce enjoyed a genuine boom, and it did so almost unnoticed: e-food.

The term basically means ordering food online and having it delivered to your home – a very broad concept for an industry of the future. What still seems a distant prospect in Switzerland has long been part of everyday life in the US and Asia: countless e-food platforms deliver whole meals – prepared, cooked, seasoned and packaged – straight to your table at just a few clicks of a mouse. In Asian cities, there are many apartments that do not even have a kitchen. Residents order all their meals pre-cooked online.

Meal deliveries

E-food is now on the rise in Switzerland, too. Take Swiss Post’s canteen operator SV Group, for example, with its hundreds of restaurants and catering operations in Switzerland: during the coronavirus crisis, the canteens were empty but the chefs were still there. What was the best thing to do in that situation? Easy – deliver pre-cooked meals to staff working from home, making sure to keep it at a constant temperature. “Temperature-controlled supply chain” is the technical term for this. And who would deliver the food? Swiss Post, of course! One person involved in this project was Emilija Damjanovic, Swiss Post’s first E-Food Market and Product Developer. She was able to incorporate her experience from her trip to Silicon Valley in the summer of 2019 . “There, dozens of platforms offer to deliver meals – either hot or frozen – within 20 minutes,” she explains. At Swiss Post, she is now developing solutions like this for Switzerland.

A win-win situation for Swiss Post and regional producers

“E-food has enormous potential,” says pioneer Emilija, “and it’s also a way of doing business sustainably.” This is because it enables many local and regional producers – everything from farms, bakeries, butchers and cheese dairies to wholesalers – to expand the reach of their products. They are delivered in reusable containers that keep the temperature of the sensitive foods stable over many hours, allowing them to be transported over greater distances. This helps local and regional producers to compete more effectively against cheap goods transported by sea and air from all over the world. Emilija Damjanovic is convinced: “As pioneers at Swiss Post, our e-food solutions will promote local and seasonal buying in a lasting, sustainable way.”

written by

Fredy Gasser