Ordering food online, fighting hunger and a forced choice between paying for food and the internet bill

CIRA report explores food and the internet

Dec. 4, 2018, OTTAWA - Today the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) released a report about food and the internet. How the internet feeds hungry Canadians explores the internet's impact on Canadians' access to food. From apps delivering food to Canadians' homes, to websites fueling the local food movement, to the ways in which the internet affects food security in Canada - for better or for worse - this report covers it all.

"Given how important food and the internet are to Canadians, CIRA decided to explore the intersection between the two," says David Fowler, vice president of marketing and communications at CIRA. "With the rise of websites and apps allowing Canadians to order food to their front door, .CA websites promoting local food products and technologies directing food meant for a landfill toward organizations feeding hungry Canadians, the internet and food have never been more connected."

Key facts

  • According to Canada's Internet Factbook, nearly a quarter of Canadians (24 per cent) have purchased food online in the past year. This is on the rise growing from 14 per cent in 2016 and 17 per cent in 2017.
  • CIRA shared a survey via social media in September about how Canadians are purchasing food online. The survey received 128 respondents from across Canada aged 18 to 55+. Although not scientific nor proportionate to population, the results provided the following insights:
    • Ordering restaurant takeout is the most common way respondents purchased food online. This includes using a restaurant's website or app for delivery (68 per cent) or pick up (57 per cent) or through a delivery service like Skip the Dishes (59 per cent).
    • The next most popular way to access food online is by ordering specialty or health food products not readily found in a grocery store (27 per cent of respondents have done this).
    • 17 per cent of respondents have ordered groceries online to be picked up at the store and 11 per cent have ordered them online and had them delivered to their home.
    • 17 per cent have ordered grocery products online at a non-traditional grocery store such as Amazon.
    • 16 per cent of respondents ordered a food box/meal kit online.
    • Ordering takeout online is popular among all ages of respondents. But age makes a difference when ordering groceries online (most popular among 35 to 44-year-olds and 55+).
  • The local food movement is thriving online through provincial government websites and organizations promoting provincial produce and flavours, restaurants specializing in farm-to-table menus and subscription meal kit services that are growing in popularity in Canada.
  • With 4 million people struggling to put enough food on the table (according to Food Banks Canada), the internet provides solutions that send more food to organizations feeding hungry Canadians. This includes Moisson Montreal, the largest foodbank in Canada, who is using digital technology to redirect food intended for the landfill to community organizations fighting hunger.

About CIRA

CIRA is building a better online Canada through the Community Investment Program by funding charities, not-for-profits and members of the academic community who are making the internet better for all Canadians. CIRA is best known for our role managing the .CA domain on behalf of all Canadians. While this remains our primary mandate, as a member-based not-for-profit ourselves, we have a much broader goal to strengthen Canada's internet. The Community Investment Program is one of our most valuable contributions toward this goal and funds projects in digital literacy, online services, research and infrastructure. Every .CA domain name registered or renewed contributes to this program. To date CIRA has contributed $5.45 million in Community Investment Program grants.