Britain’s food sector is constantly evolving to keep up with rising demand for niche nosh – such as halal, kosher, gluten-free or vegan.
Abul Rob, founder of online food delivery service Pronto Eat, is looking to claim his own slice of this growing dietary pie.
The Brit-Bangladeshi Muslim has already launched and sold off the nation’s first online halal food delivery site, Halal Eat, now he’s set his sights on the wider niche diet market.
Pronto Eat launched in November 2018 and plans to disrupt the takeaway delivery market, which is currently monopolised in Britain by Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Currently Rob’s app serves the UK capital but plans are afoot to launch in Dubai by the end of the year too.
Abul Rob, founder of online food delivery service Pronto Eat
Unlike its mainstream competitors, Pronto Eat allows users to seek out the best niche options from restaurants that are closely vetted by the firm for adhering to dietary standards – whether kosher, halal or vegan.
The London-based entrepreneur tells Arabian Business: “Pronto Eat will cultivate the rapidly growing alternative diet scene, while actively promoting healthy eating with the launch of our mobile apps in mid-2019.”
Rob, 41, says his upcoming mobile apps will allow users to see the calories in each takeaway – a first in Britain.
The Pronto Eat apps will also contain additional enhanced wellbeing features, such as calorie-based selection capabilities, calorie recorders and healthy food suggestions.
Rob, a former Just Eat employee, says: “There’s a massive obesity problem in the UK and the GCC, so that’s why our next destination is Dubai.
“There is a real need to discover food in a more healthy manner. My competitors, such as Just Eat, have done a superb job, but as a smaller company, we are compelled to innovate and do something different.”
In Dubai, Rob says the company is looking at producing and delivering its own food from a warehouse “so we can get the data on the food and know exactly how many calories are in it.”
Rob adds: “Dubai has heavy takeaway and fast food consumption levels, and with that comes obesity and diabetes problems. We are trying to help governments solve obesity issues.”
Ahead of its UK nationwide launch, Pronto Eat has launched its pilot phase in East London – an area that is heavily populated by Muslims.
Rob says: “We have seen very positive traction. We are serving over 1,000 customers and are aiming to have 100 restaurants on our books soon.”
In order to expand, Pronto Eat has secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Rizvan Khalid, a prominent figure in the British halal food industry and managing director of Euro Quality Lambs, one of the largest halal abattoirs in Europe.
The businessman has the numbers on his side. The value of the niche foods sector in Britain and globally is on a steep growth curve.
The overall value of the UK’s halal food market alone is £700 million, according to the Muslim Council of Britain.
The number of Muslims in the UK is set to triple in 30 years to 13 million, according to projections from the Pew Research Centre.
British tastes for other specialist foods, such as vegetarian options, are also on the rise.
The UK market for meat-free foods was reportedly worth £572 million in 2017, according to market researchers Mintel, up from £539 million only two years earlier.
Rob says most of Pronto Eat’s orders are currently for halal food, followed by vegan meals.
Pronto Eat currently has four staff in the UK and 10 employees at a call centre in Pakistan. Rob says he expects the payroll to increase as the company expands.
In the coming months, Rob will be focused on honing the site’s tech capabilities. “We have plans to eventually become cross-platform – even connecting with gyms and personal trainers to deliver meal plans.”
Rob says: “But right now we are building the tech capability and then we will endeavour to address all the pain-points that come with making healthy food measurable, enjoyable and discoverable.”