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GCC picks: Homemade or takeaway?

April 8, 2021

Hand up if you have had more food delivery visits over the last year than guests coming over. COVID changed numerous aspects of our lives, including food consumption. Over the last year we spent more time indoors, and consumed more food at home; whether it be a homemade meal or a takeaway. 

While the economy was hit badly, and with restaurants being unable to welcome guests, online food delivery platforms came to the rescue.

The GCC region has started to recover quickly, consumers now feel safer going out to restaurants, and are starting to revert back to their default food consumption habits.

The Food Conversation

The overall food conversation on Instagram did not see much change in 2020; rather saw the same peaks being carried over from previous years. Although people spent more time indoors, cooking content did not increase on the platform post-Ramadan.


In comes TikTok, the biggest thing to come out of lockdown. TikTok became the most downloaded app of 2020 globally and saw huge growth in the region.

Food content creators saw the potential and capitalised on the growing engagement rates and the achievable reach.

We used our data warehouse Sila to put this to the test. A quick analysis found that out of instagram’s top 50 Saudi food content creators, 32% of them had started a TikTok page, and the results were quite astonishing.

Number of posts created by the 32% of creators present on both Instagram and TikTok
Number of posts created by the 32% of creators present on both Instagram and TikTok

As things stand, creators that have both a TikTok and an instagram account, have been posting more content on Instagram but are gaining higher interactions and video views on TikTok, despite having a smaller following and a shorter presence.

Interactions gained by the 32% on Instagram vs TikTok
Interactions gained by the 32% on Instagram vs TikTok

While the food conversation has not dropped on Instagram, content creators are posting more on TikTok; therefore, the food conversation is growing overall, but on other platforms.

Of course, food content sees seasonal peaks, with Ramadan being the biggest grower.

On the other hand, we were not able to eat out during lockdowns, but June onwards, these numbers have started to increase yet again, even equalling the Pre-Covid era in August.

Cooking content is the most shared type of content across all of our markets, while food delivery content is the most unlikely to be shared.

Food content published by content creators over time
Food content published by content creators over time

Talabat currently ranks amongst the top 20 most downloaded and used apps on both the Appstore and Playstore in the UAE, while Deliveroo ranks in the top 30.  

COVID changed the way we eat, but has it changed our posting habits?

The UAE eats out

The following analysis looks at each of our top 3 markets in detail and analyses content posted by our pool of food content creators on Instagram. The content is sorted into three main categories: Cooking, Eating out and food delivery.

Emiratis love eating out, and love posting about it.

UAE food content creators’ posting habits
UAE food content creators’ posting habits

The UAE’s food content creators posted more “Eating-out” moments than any of the other two markets.

In comparison, 15% of the total conversation was related to eating-out.

Furthermore, when looking at interactions, the UAE market saw the highest interaction percentage for the “eating-out” category across all three markets with 13%.

Saudis ‘cheffing’ it up

Cooking content was at its highest in KSA, and remains so.

Saudi brings to the table the biggest number of cooking content creators, and they have been on it. Cooking content made up a whopping 89% of the food conversation in the country, and is expected to continue this growth as we close in on the biggest seasonal peak of the year in Ramadan.

Saudi food content creators’ posting habits
Saudi food content creators’ posting habits

Make way for the takeaway

Kuwaitis love ordering food, and love posting about it.

While Kuwait had more cooking and ‘eating out’ content; the percentage of “food delivery” content was the highest across all three markets.

8.3% of the posts were deliveries which was higher than the UAE’s 3.7% and Saudi’s 3%.

Kuwaiti food content creators’ posting habits
Kuwaiti food content creators’ posting habits

Lessons learned and recommendations

As we close in on food contents’ biggest peak of the year – Ramadan – food advertisers are preparing their thinking caps and approaching the festive season with the most creativity.

Using Sila, we have learned that, while COVID has changed the way we consume food, it has not changed our posting patterns.

Cooking content remains high, with the occasional seasonal peaks. As of now, food delivery has no place on social media and restaurant visits remain minimal.

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