It’s 11 pm and you’re hungry. What do you do? If you’re in most countries in Asia, you’ll probably reach for your phone and open your go-to food delivery app. Between Grab, Foodpanda, Street Panda, and Deliveroo, as well as more local, boutique setups, there is no shortage of options. And as an increasing number of companies flood the market, competition to fulfil all your lazy hunger needs is becoming stiff in Asia as the market ripens.  

GrabFood scarfed down UberEATS in May this year as part of the Grab takeover of Uber in Southeast Asia. Some said that the acquisition came as a result of Uber being unable to adapt to the regional market. GrabFood has since worked its way into most countries in Southeast Asia and is causing quite the stir among its competition. Food delivery services are here to stay, and the market is expected to continue to grow as mobile penetration continues to grow and the consumers tend towards convenience. The question is, will a single player take over the industry, or will it be shared among the many companies that already exist and are coming into existence as we speak?

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Image courtesy Facebook

Let’s look at the competition.

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This London-based delivery service is making its way over to Asia, having launched in Hong Kong, Singapore, and most recently in Taiwan. The company, now in its fifth year, has significant financial backing, being valued at more than $2 billion USD. To compete in the growing market, it’s going to need it. Deliveroo recently introduced a subscription-based “Plus” service in Singapore, which costs $10.90 SGD per month in exchange for free delivery (normally $3) as well as exclusive discounts. They also cut down significantly on their delivery times (by 20 percent) last year with their real-time dispatch algorithm called Frank.

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Image courtesy of Facebook


FoodPanda has come a long way from when it launched six years ago in Berlin. The company now boasts over 27,000 restaurants in nearly 200 cities and works with nearly 16,000 delivery riders. It didn’t make it in India, where it was taken over by Indian cab-aggregator Ola last year, but it dominates the market in Thailand and maintains a popular foothold in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. To compete with the growing food delivery market in the Southeast Asian region, FoodPanda had some tricks up its sleeve. It recently launched Streetpanda, offering street food on delivery. In Singapore, it tried another tactic: offering a dine-in concept in Singapore with its “favourites by Foodpanda”

Go-Jek (GoFood)

Go-Jek is a more local success story, having launched its ride-hailing and logistics services back in 2010 in Jakarta. The company is now valued at $5 million USD, with a fleet of over 1 million drivers. Its food delivery service, GoFood, launched in 2015, and just recently expanded to Vietnam under its Go-Viet arm.

Smaller Players vying for marketshare

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Image courtesy of Facebook

Honestbee, whose headquarters are in Singapore, delivers not only food but also groceries and even parcels to its customers in Hong Kong, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and other Asian countries. In Malaysia, SmartBite delivers lunch to hungry office workers using innovative technology that eliminates delivery fees, with no minimum order. The company’s gold membership offers even more benefits to those who are willing to commit to a monthly fee, with discounts, loyalty points, and more. Bangkok’s Indiedish separates itself from the competition by focusing on healthy, MSG-free food delivery. Meanwhile, Myanmar’s Food2U secured six-digit funding in 2017, giving the company the fuel it needs to expand its restaurant selection in Yangon, and to roll out in Mandalay city. The company is now estimated to be worth $1.5 million USD.

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Food delivery services are, without a doubt, growing faster than ever before. The Southeast Asian market offers an exciting opportunity for players large and small to all indulge in a slice of the pie. At this point, it seems unlikely that one single player will gulp the market. The region’s various unique demands make it even more integral than ever to understand cultural nuances, which means that boutique operators may still win out in some places. In short, it’s fair to say that GrabFood’s introduction to this side of the world may have shaken up the industry, but the company ought to be ready to up its game in the face of its competitors who are innovating their offerings to secure their own individual footholds.