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Uber-like mania hits food delivery companies seeking to fill appetite for food that comes to the home

From China across to India and westbound to the Americas, the Uber-like phenomena is spreading like wildfire as companies seek to tap into mobile devices and apps to deliver food in minutes.

Uber had the first advantage when it disrupted the traditional taxi market. This week it announced it will be offering UberEat, a food service delivery aimed in Barcelona, Spain. This was after it launched uberFRESH in the US in Los Angeles on a trial basis (since August 2014).

Besides Uber, other companies have been building services around merging web to mobile,  especially in the food delivery business. It is a very enticing concept – the ability to with a few clicks — offer customers a choice of meal from a number of gastronomical universes — delivered to the front door, in minutes. It is a business with so much going for it, not possible until technology paved way for the development.

Indian and Chinese startups have been frantic in copying the Uber model for use in the food delivery service. Out of India, Zomato – a restaurant discovery site, announced in early February, it will be launching in March offering a service enabling customers across India to order food directly from its platform, with a spread of 2,000 restaurants.

The Gurgaon-based, Southwest of New Delhi, has raised over US$110 million (NZ$146 million) to date from US investors to finance its international expansion, including to develop its food delivery business in India. The company intends to roll the service into other markets such as Dubai and Australia, according to TechCrunch.

Food delivery, the way it has been done in India

In China, Shanghai-based Ele.me, a food delivery service based in Shanghai, announced in late January that it has raised US$350 million in from CITIC, Tencent, JD.com, Dianping.com, and Sequoia Capital to pursue development plans. Tencent, an ecommerce company is a competitor to AliBaba.com, an ecommerce giant. Ele.me has its service across 250 Chinese cities, over 200,000 restaurants and 20 million users. In 2014, 75% of its 110 million renmenbi (NZ$23.3 million) orders were made through mobile apps, TechCrunch says.

In case the world thinks India and China have gone bananas over food, Berlin-based Rocket Internet has also jumped into the food delivery bandwagon. It has made major acquisitions in a string of food delivery companies across different continents and now has a commanding food delivery and related food business presence in 39 countries across the globe.

The company recently announced it has identified food and groceries as the new frontier of ecommerce, and has created Global Online Takeaway Group, a company which will house all its food delivery assets, including those of Foodpanda,  and newly-acquired 30% stake in online food takeaway company, Delivery Hero (for EUR496 million) as well as La Nevera Roja (in Spain) and Pizzabo (Italy).

Loves peanut sauce, tennis, taichi, stockmarkets, and cool entrepreneurs – not necessarily in that order. In her previous reincarnations, she was an intranet worker bee at Mercer HR Consulting, a Reuters worker ant, and a NZ Herald mule.

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