Food in Italy - who's taking the biggest slice of the mobile market?

March, 22 2019

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Earlier this month, Italian food was officially crowned as the world’s favourite cuisine, according to a survey by YouGov. But what food apps are capitalising on the Italian market and their food love affair? 


We pulled together some data using Priori Data’s app and market intelligence tools to paint a picture of the country’s app use in the Food & Drink category.  

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The top 10 downloaded apps of 2018 is a good place to start. McDonald’s, a far-cry from an authentic pizza margherita or pasta carbonara, came out on top by some significant margin in both app stores.


Despite a somewhat slow adoption rate in the first half of the year, downloads increased dramatically after the fast-food chain improved reliability issues and trained employees in the technology - allowing customers to pre-order and pay for their food, ready for collection upon arrival.



The battle to be king of the delivery apps is also noteworthy. Despite many other global regions seeing Just Eat struggle to hold off fierce competition from Deliveroo and Uber Eats, their grip on pole position remains fairly safe in Italy. This was reinforced by a surge in downloads in recent months.


Deliveroo and Uber Eats had initially struggled to match the immediate success they have seen in most parts of the globe. The tight restrictions on taxi and ride-hailing business in urban centres will probably take most of the blame for this.


Nevertheless, as the services stretch further into suburban areas both have seen steady growth in downloads since June 2018, with Uber Eats achieving a huge 470.5% increase in downloads on the previous year. As the gap narrows, Just Eat will do well to maintain their dominance. For a more detailed look at the food delivery market in general be sure to check out our report here



However, it would be unfair to say it's all about fast-food and takeaways for the Italians. Recipe apps for home-cooking do seem to be to more people's taste than we have seen elsewhere. 


Leading the way is Giallo Zafferana; starting out as a website in 2006, the app launched in 2011 offering easily accessible instructional video content, and has become a staple in many Italian phones. They make up 95% of the app’s global downloads on Android, and 58% on iOS.


You might have also noticed Svuotafrigo creeping into the top 10 downloads on Android, differentiating itself by offering recipe ideas based on the items you already have in your fridge. Despite this, the same app achieved only 9.9.k downloads on iOS, compared to the 94k of its Android counterpart. Perhaps there is some room for improvement in terms of ASO for Svuotafrigo to see consistent success across all platforms. 


In comparison the highest rating recipe app in the USA food & drink category is ‘Tasty’ by Buzzfeed, charting well outside the top ten on both stores with delivery and fast-food chain apps proving far more popular.




Having said this, it seems even Italians, with their reputation as passionate home chefs, aren’t averse to cutting a few corners. The multi-cooker ‘Bimby’ has been a hit in the Southern Europe country, evidenced by the accompanying app performing well in both app stores and showing no signs of stopping. Ricette Bimby saw a 57.1% increase in growth in Q4 of 2018 on iOS; an impressive figure hugely overshadowed by the Android version, that saw growth of 367.1% in the same time-frame.


But who will those at the top be checking over their shoulders for? Domino’s have made a push for the top 10 with 613% download growth so far this year (on Android), and DAU numbers also improving.


Tasty is also looking to challenge the established recipe apps since entering the Android mobile market in August of last year. The iOS version has been around slightly longer, but has also gained some momentum and seems to be following suit. 


With food being such an integral part of Italian culture, one would assume that this industry can only grow as more players enter the market and find new ways of unlocking untapped potential. 




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