Uber customers are going out again but they still want their meals delivered

Follow the money.
Follow the money.
Image: REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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People are starting to go out again, but that doesn’t mean they are giving up on having their meals delivered.

In the three months ending Sept.30, Uber’s food delivery business booked a total of $12.8 billion, up 50% from the same period last year. Meanwhile, it booked $9.9 billion in rides, up 67% year-over-year. Uber’s share of the delivery revenue continues to eclipse that from ride-hailing, at $2.23 billion versus $2.2 billion, suggesting demand for delivery will continue for the foreseeable future.

“Even as cities got moving again, delivery gross bookings posted yet another best week ever last week,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, on a conference call yesterday with analysts and investors to discuss the company’s results.

Uber wants to provide the on-demand delivery of everything

Outside of food delivery, the company has been pushing into the on-demand delivery of just about everything—from alcohol to groceries. That’s been bolstered by its recent acquisitions of food and drink companies Cornershop and Drizly in the past year.

The delivery market grew rapidly during the pandemic, and Uber sees continued potential for growth. Fewer than 5% of groceries are bought online in the US, while food delivery is more than 10% of total restaurant purchases, said Khosrowshahi on the call. In the longterm, he’s betting Uber will be able to get users from moving with them and having meals delivered to having groceries delivered to them as well.

“We can extend that model to essentially every single local retailer, so that anything you want in New York City can be delivered to you, hopefully in under 30 minutes,” Khosrowshahi said in a speech at the Economic Club of New York, in 2019.

That said, concrete profits remain nonexistent. In the quarter, Uber recorded a net loss of $2.4 billion, which includes the investment in Didi Global that was hit by regulatory crackdown wiping away billions of dollars from the Chinese ride-hailing giant’s valuation.