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The unit economics of food-delivery apps

Here is another article/report thing from McKinsey talking about the “fast-growing food-delivery ecosystem.” In the US, the top food-delivery players are DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub (in this order).

What is clear is that these platforms are growing very quickly and that COVID-19 was of course great for the business of eating at home. The demand is there.

But what is also clear is that food-delivery is a low-margin business that depends on scale. Last-mile and single-point delivery is tough. This is despite the fact that consumers have shown to be willing to pay a fairly significant premium in exchange for the conveniences of on-demand meals.

Here’s a chart from McKinsey that looks at the unit economics of delivery apps:

It is a race to capture “stomach share.”

But surely this evolves and gets further optimized with the continued rise of things like “ghost kitchens” and maybe autonomous delivery robots.

I remember driving home one night during the thick of the pandemic and placing an order on Uber Eats for pickup. When I arrived, I found a small food truck and one lonely guy in the middle of an empty (and wintery) parking lot on Lake Shore East. He handed me my poke bowls and I was on my way.

This is what is happening behind our apps and it’s changing the way we eat.

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