UK food delivery firms face new challenges during COVID-19
Nawied Jabarkhyl in London

"It's a bit scary, I've got family, I've got kids to feed". Juno Bok is one of thousands of drivers around the UK whose income relies on an app-based food delivery service.

Originally from Brazil, Bok has been living in London for 19 years and has spent 17 of those working as a delivery driver.

"I've never seen anything like this before," he said, referring to the outbreak of COVID-19, "it's stopped everything and everyone is worried."

Bok, along with several other drivers we met working for London-based app Deliveroo, said their income had dropped in recent weeks.

They think it's down to fears over the coronavirus, which could be making people think twice about ordering food. Bok's seen his orders fall by around 25 percent in the last week and has fears over: "This is my main job, I don't have any other job. If they close down it's a problem, big problem, very big problem."

But, some are hopeful that things may turn around. With the UK announcing stricter lockdown measures, people may be forced to stay indoors and the drivers congregated outside these makeshift kitchens in south-west London were optimistic that things may pick up soon.

"If people can't go out, hopefully they will have to use us more," said one driver, who didn't want to be named.

Deliveroo drivers are struggling as the pandemic continues, with some saying their orders have fallen by 25 percent in the last week /AP

Deliveroo drivers are struggling as the pandemic continues, with some saying their orders have fallen by 25 percent in the last week /AP

COVID-19 may have slowed some parts of the food delivery sector, but others are thriving.

Ocado is one of the largest online supermarkets in the UK and demand has been so high on the platform, that its website was suspended on Thursday. A message on it read: "we're fully booked and at full capacity, and will be delivering to over 170,000 households in the next four days".

Empty shelves have become a common sight across supermarkets and grocery stores in the UK and it's a similar trend online.

As people rush to stock up on supplies, services like Ocado are proving increasingly popular. But can they keep up with demand?

Carina Perkins is the managing editor of The Grocer magazine, and thinks people's behaviour will need to change: "I think they will manage the demand, people are going to have to be patient and some of the big stores are now requesting that people go into store when they can go into store, to make sure that delivery stocks are available for those who need them, such as those that are self-isolating or the elderly and vulnerable."

We reached out to Ocado, who said they had no comment on the issue, while Deliveroo didn't respond to our request.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that the worst is yet to come with regards to COVID-19 in the UK, delivery services could become a crucial part of the battleplan, especially if more people have to stay indoors.