Newsletter #98 - Delivery in Asia

How Meituan is redefining food delivery in China with drones

Happy new year! We hope you’ve had a restful break over the new year and are ready to take on 2022, together.

In this week’s issue, we’ll be taking a slice of the food delivery market, eyeing trends and tech. Southeast Asia has always liked its takeout and the food delivery tech market has boomed in the last year and the region’s food delivery market is expected to grow up to US$28 billion in 2025.

With the advent of user-friendly apps and tech-enabled delivery networks, how we eat is rapidly changing. How will our relationship with food change as more of us are now ordering in?

Cooking up a storm,

Team NC

🚲 Ordering in: food delivery in APAC

#TRENDS

How online food delivery surge could be harming our health [The Conversation]

Appetite for convenience, but at a cost - Delivery apps provide easy access to a variety of foods, but many foods listed on such apps are harmful to our health.

In one study, data from Uber Eats in Australia and New Zealand found that fast-food chains were the most popular food outlets being ordered from. In another study, researchers found that more than 80% of Uber Eats’ menu items were “junk” foods like pizza, burgers and sugary drinks.

Marketing tactics not helping - Unhealthier menu items were more than twice as likely to be listed as “most popular” than healthier options on Uber Eats, a marketing tactic that can hinder consumers from making healthier choices.

Moreover, online food delivery services have leveraged the pandemic to promote junk food on social media, where 70% of the food advertised on Instagram were junk food.

How to promote healthier choices in the digital age - To reduce the harm of junk food from food delivery apps, experts suggest restricting junk food advertising on social media, as online food delivery services need to be considered with the broader food industry. On a more personal level, we can also improve our own eating habits and be more cautious about how food delivery apps market their foods.

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#BUSINESS

Foodpanda offers a lifeline for SMEs across Asia [KrAsia]

Opening doors to new opportunities - By now, most of us are used to online shopping, but for many brick-and-mortar businesses, transitioning online was a rough ride during the pandemic. However, as the largest food and grocery delivery network in Asia, Foodpanda is now an essential service partner and digital enabler for vendors and riders.

Throughout the pandemic and during lockdowns, Foodpanda helped digitise nearly 30,000 shops, half of which were SMEs that also included wet markets, neighbourhood bakeries, and local mom-and-pop stores.

On-demand deliveries as a new way of life - When spending slowed down, neighbourhood stores—from countries like Pakistan and Hong Kong—lost sales. Nonetheless, delivery platforms like Foodpanda offer convenience and aid the transition into online sales.

Now, consumers can enjoy meals, groceries, beauty and wellness products, electronics, flowers, and many more items delivered swiftly to their homes. And SMEs are changing their mode of operations to keep up with the times, helping local communities grow.

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#TECH

How Meituan is redefining food delivery in China with drones [TechCrunch]

Food delivery takes flight - Descending from the cloudy heavens, drones are helping Meituan, a Chinese food delivery company, get to places harder to reach by bike or car. Over the past two years, Meituan has flown 19,000 meals to 8,000 customers across Shenzhen, a city with close to 20 million people. The drones deliver to designated streetside kiosks rather than hover outside people’s windows as envisioned by sci-fi writers.

Designing the drones: lessons from the US - Meituan realised that most Americans live in suburban sprawls, in contrast to people in China and many other Asian countries where much of the population are concentrated in urban clusters. As a result, drones in the US tend to be “fixed-wing” with vertical landing and takeoff abilities, whereas Meituan’s drones operate more like a small helicopter, which is more suited for complex urban environments.

Human help - Meituan doesn’t plan to replace its millions of couriers in China with unmanned flyers outright, though automation would relieve its overworked delivery people. Their goal is to find the sweet spot where humans and robots collaborate by mining each one’s strengths—where delivery drivers can get obstructed by the city’s notorious road infrastructure, drones can easily overcome these ground obstacles by air.

Now, consumers can enjoy meals, groceries, beauty and wellness products, electronics, flowers, and many more items delivered swiftly to their homes. And SMEs are changing their mode of operations to keep up with the times, helping local communities grow.

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