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If 2019 was the year restaurant food delivery companies went mainstream, 2020 is shaping up to be the year mergers and acquisitions whittle the competition among these third-party services down until just a couple companies emerge victorious.
Case in point: this week, Uber announced it is selling its Eats business in India to Zomato, a local rival that processes at least half a million more orders per day in that country than Eats does. Uber’s exit from the Indian market leaves just two major players: Zomato (which Uber will have a small stake in) and Swiggy, who also has access to deep pockets thanks to backing from investment firm Naspers.
And that news is just the latest in a series of announcements that all suggest acquisitions and mergers are the fuel pushing further consolidation worldwide in the crowded food delivery space. The ongoing bidding war over UK-based service Just Eat looks to finally be at an end, with Takeaway.com, who originally planned to acquire the company, coming out as the winner. The combined entity of Just Eat and Takeaway.com would form one of the largest food delivery companies in the world. In the States, Postmates has reportedly been exploring a sale instead of its planned IPO (which still hasn’t happened). A Wall Street Journal report from earlier this month said Grubhub had hired financial advisors to consider “strategic options including a possible sale” — though Grubhub denies the claim.
Uber’s motivation in the Zomato deal is in part all about cutting back on loss-making operations as the cash-burning business comes under increasing pressure to prove profitability over the next year. On that score, the company isn’t alone. Postmates shuttered its Mexico City operations in December. Deliveroo closed up shop in Germany last year. In 2018, Delivery Hero sold its German operations to Takeaway.com. And Uber itself ended its Eats business in South Korea last year.
Consider all that activity the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Most delivery companies are currently in the same boat as Uber, where investors are applying pressure to show the food delivery model can in fact be profitable and not just burn through money. So it’s safe to say that many services will continue shutting down or selling loss-heavy operations around the globe over the next several months and opening the door to further consolidation.
At-home Indoor Farming Is Suddenly the New Black
There’s a new trend afoot in the connected kitchen: vertical farms built specifically for the home and meant to be used by your average consumer.
Ever since CES, when major appliance-makers like LG and GE showed off flashy vertical farming concepts for the consumer kitchen of the future, here at The Spoon we’ve gotten a seemingly endless series of pitches and news announcements about this indoor-farm-to-table concept. The idea is simple: make an indoor farm that ranges anywhere between a flowerpot and a bookshelf in size, outfit it with accompanying technology that automates much of the actual work around growing the plants, and sell the product to consumers for, in most cases, under $1,000.
In the last several weeks alone, Rise Gardens, the Planty Cube, Miele, and many others have shown off products that hit these marks. But while there’s a lot of excitement (bordering on hype) around growing salad greens in your own kitchen, the still-nascent market hasn’t yet hit the point where the questions start to sprout up. Are these farms really as easy to use and automated as companies say? Can they actually save people money? Can individuals with a terrible track record when it comes to gardening (me) grow something that actually tastes good?
The next several months should provide some answers to these questions.
Customize Is Almost Here!
That’s a wrap for this week. But before I go, here’s a quick reminder that we’re gearing up for Customize, our first NYC event. Personalization is changing everything from restaurants to grocery stores to our own kitchens, so join the Spoon team and our amazing group of speakers on February 27th! Just use the special Spoon subscriber discount code THESPOON15 for a 15% discount off of tickets.