In the April-June quarter alone, white-collar workers and professionals spent 38 billion yuan on delivered food, or about 83 percent of delivery firms’ sales (down from 84 percent in the first quarter).
In contrast, university students accounted for 10 percent of sales, while residents of housing estates contributed almost 7 percent.
Deliveries of afternoon snacks and dinners have seen strong growth, suggesting personalized services will likely find favor soon as the market matures, necessitating diverse foods.
According to Iimedia Research, some food delivery platforms are raising the fee they collect from restaurants for inclusion on their apps. High fees could push restaurants and caterers to either look for cheaper delivery alternatives or exit the takeout channel altogether, said Iimedia.
All these developmemts, it appears, have fascinated investors no end. Sensing big business opportunities, corporates are vying for a piece of the food delivery pie.
Ele.me, which is backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, acquired Baidu Waimai, the food delivery unit of internet search firm Baidu Inc, for 4.2 billion yuan in August.
Meanwhile, Meituan-Dianping, China’s leading groupbuying and dining the money raised by Meituan-Dianping in its latest financing round, which valued it at $30 billion information platform, said on Oct 19 it has raised $4 billion in its latest financing round, which valued it at $30 billion.
The round was led by Tencent Holdings Ltd, and includes a new investor, the Priceline Group, and other big investors such as Sequoia Capital, the China-UAE investment Cooperation Fund and GIC of Singapore.
The fund infusion will allow Meituan-Dianping to increase investment in artificial intelligence and unmanned delivery, to promote its transformation into a modern services player.
Food delivery services are expected to compete for quality next, using technology in a way that addresses consumer needs and strengthens linkages with other businesses, said Chen Liteng, a analyst with China E-commerce ResearchCenter. Things are evolving in that direction already.
Some food delivery service operators have extended their takeout categories by linking with traditional retailers such as supermarkets, fresh food retailers and pharmacies.