Market Data

Fast Food is Getting Faster: Downloads of Ultrafast Food & Drink Delivery Apps Surge by 266% in a Year

data.ai Insights

data.ai’s new report reveals speedy delivery is among the most dynamic sector in the Food & Drink app space, with sessions up 214% to 1.8 billion in Q1 2022

Get it fast - and then faster. Speed and convenience are the driving forces behind the vibrant Food & Drink app space.

According to data.ai’s latest report, State of Food & Drink for Q1 2022, there's little doubt where the 'unicorn' growth is happening in the market: ultrafast delivery inside 30 minutes.

Downloads of ultrafast delivery apps such as Getir, Zepto and Flink rose from 6.5 million in Q1 2021 to 26 million in Q1 2022. That's a YoY spike of 266%. Meanwhile, collective sessions in these products grew 214% from around 700 billion to 1.8 billion.

These remarkable numbers suggest that there is still plenty of dynamism in what looks on the surface like a fairly stable market sector.

A Mature Market, But With Plenty of Innovation

Mobile Food & Drink enjoyed a huge boom during the two years of the pandemic. COVID stay-at-home orders encouraged new habits and 'ordering in by app' proved to be one of the most enduring. As a result, global user sessions in Food & Drink apps stood at 37 billion in Q4 2020. They hit 62 billion in Q4 2021. That's a rise of around 69%. 

However, our new numbers reveal that the space has now settled down. Overall downloads grew by a modest 5% year on year to 422.9 million. What’s more compelling is the growth in engagement: with sessions up 54% to 57 billion. Mobile habits are deeping in this space.

Download the full report to access user acquisition and engagement trends across 19 strategic markets.

But, to repeat, look deeper and there is significant innovation taking place. While it's true that ultrafast delivery apps represented just 6% of all Food & Drink downloads in the quarter, they are clearly the 'new new thing'.

Can they maintain their momentum? There has been a huge amount of investment in companies committed to delivery in less than half an hour. Getir closed a  $768 million Series E funding round earlier this year, bringing the company's valuation to $11.8 billion. It has a 10-minute grocery delivery proposition offering across 2,000 everyday items.

But can Getir and the rest make ultrafast delivery profitable? This question still provokes strong debate. There has recently been some pushback. Some say it all comes down to logistics, and that the key is having access to mini-warehouses in key locations.

 Others believe consumer expectations need to be managed. DoorDash's COO Christopher Payne recently stated: “All of us are beginning to test the balance: does 15 minutes matter? Is 30 minutes good enough? I don’t know where the edge is yet."

The New Order? There Were 47 Billion Sessions in Food Delivery & Carryout Apps in Q1 2022

While overall Food & Drink app downloads remained steady year on year, user sessions grew prodigiously. Global time spent in Food & Drink apps grew 65% YoY, which is 8x more than downloads. It suggests that the millions who have embraced the new 'ordering in by app' behavior are doubling down on it.

And what are they ordering? Well, the Food Delivery & Carryout (takeaway food) category remains the biggest segment by some distance. Sessions are an important indication of ‘digital foot traffic’ or ‘food orders’.Total sessions rose from 37 billion to 47 billion YoY. To give a sense of how significant this is, the next biggest category – grocery delivery – supported 8.6 billion sessions. The market as a whole supported 57 billion sessions. The remaining genres comprise ultrafast delivery, cooking and recipes, ratings reviews & reservations and restaurants & bars.

App Users in Asia Make the Market’s Biggest Moves

All over the world, people are spending more time than ever in Food & Drink apps. However, there is significant regional variation. Undoubtedly, in the year to Q1 2022, South East Asia and Asia Pacific are leading the way.

India consolidated its position as the #1 region in the market, accounting for nearly 20% of all time spent. Its users increased their total usage hours by 80% to more than 1 billion in the quarter.

But there was even more eye-catching growth in other Asian countries. Thailand's session hours rise by 70%, the Philippines by 180% and Pakistan by 100%. However, the biggest mover of all was Indonesia. Its time spent YoY grew nearly 5x from 88 million hours to 423 million hours.

The spike was propelled by the marketing activity of new players entering the market for the first time: agri-grocery startup Segari; ultrafast grocery delivery app Astro; and cloud-kitchen startup Hangry. The latter is 'one to watch'. Cloud kitchens are dedicated commercial facilities built to produce food for delivery (rather than on-premises consumption). In Indonesia alone, cloud kitchens are expected to grow at a CAGR rate of 20.7%  from 2021 to 2028, according to Grand View Research.

Giant Food & Drink Brands Have Locked up the Top 10

The huge size and potential of the Food & Drink app space has made it a hot spot for investment and M&A. As a result, it is now dominated by a cohort of global brands. This is reflected in data.ai's new research. It shows the market’s top 10 apps by MAU in Q1 2021 comprises exactly the same companies as the list for Q2 2022. Grab and Uber Eats placed at #1 and #2 respectively in every quarter.

To get a more nuanced sense of consumer tastes, it pays to look at the regional charts. Here, we can see how products with no global presence can still dominate a local market. Examples include PedidosYa (#1 in Argentina), Tim Hortons (#1 in Canada), Baedal Minjok (#1 in South Korea) and Yemeksepeti (#1 in Turkey).

Sustainability and Food Sharing Apps See Huge Growth

Similarly, the breakout app chart also gives an indication of possible future trends in the space. At #1 in breakout downloads (measured by percentage quarter over quarter growth), there is Too Good To Go. We have written about this Denmark-based business before. Its app lets consumers buy heavily discounted leftover food from restaurants and grocery stores.

It's at the vanguard of a new wave of interest in sustainability and food sharing. Others include India's first farmers' marketplace, UrbanKisaan, which saw +391% YoY growth in downloads worldwide. However, the star performer in this category to Q2 2022 was Refood - Salve refeições. This Portuguese app lets users collect unsold food from participating local cafes and restaurants. It grew its downloads by 879% in a single quarter (from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022).

Download data.ai’s Food & Drink Report Today to Learn How to Adapt to Cost-Conscious, Time-Sensitive and Hungry Consumers:

data.ai’s State of Food & Drink on Mobile report breaks down the key questions app publishers need to ask to win over hungry mobile consumers. Download the full report to uncover data-fueled answers to these pressing questions.

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July 19, 2022

Market Data

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