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Covid-19: With no dining in, food delivery firms report jump in demand but some riders see little change in earnings

SINGAPORE — Since more stringent rules to curb the spread of Covid-19 took effect on Sunday (May 16), major food and grocery delivery firms have seen an increase in orders, with one reporting an almost 50 per cent jump.

A food delivery rider near Jem mall in Jurong East on May 17, 2021.

A food delivery rider near Jem mall in Jurong East on May 17, 2021.

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  • A delivery firm said that orders have increased by almost half since Sunday
  • Out of nine delivery riders who spoke to TODAY, only one reported a slight rise in earnings
  • One rider said more of them may be working this period, thus spreading the earnings thinner
  • Food delivery firms said they are constantly getting new delivery riders onboard to meet demand


SINGAPORE — Since more stringent rules to curb the spread of Covid-19 took effect on Sunday (May 16), major food and grocery delivery firms have seen an increase in orders, with one reporting an almost 50 per cent jump.

However, this extra business has not translated to higher earnings or more deliveries for the food delivery riders who spoke to TODAY.

Delivery firm Foodpanda said that orders have risen by almost half since Sunday, compared with the period before that.

“This includes orders for food, as well as for groceries and other home essentials from Pandamart and Foodpanda shops,” it said. “We are unable to share specific figures on the increase.”

Similarly, Deliveroo and Grab also told TODAY that they had seen increases in delivery orders since Sunday, but declined to give figures.

As part of the Phase Two (heightened alert) restrictions from May 16 to June 13, dining-in is banned at all food-and-beverage (F&B) establishments, including hawker centres and coffee shops.

Out of nine delivery riders from the three major firms interviewed on Tuesday, only one reported a slight increase in earnings. Most said that the number of orders and their earnings have remained the same as before Sunday.

A Grab food delivery rider, who wanted to be known only as Rey, said that his earnings rose about 15 per cent on Monday, but this was solely due to an uptick in GrabMart orders for goods such as groceries and healthcare products, rather than a rise in food deliveries.

He normally gets about five to 10 orders a day on GrabMart, but it was a high of about 20 orders on Monday. This did not last though, and on Tuesday, even his GrabMart orders were back to the status quo again.

“It’s just a slight increase, and there’s no pattern that has developed yet,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s only a few days into the (heightened alert phase).”


Other riders said that the number of orders and their earnings had stayed constant.

Part-time Foodpanda delivery rider Kuan Chun Siong said that before Sunday, he had averaged about eight to 12 orders a day for a four-and-a-half hour shift, and this has not changed.

He said that though the demand for food deliveries may have increased, the waiting times at restaurants have also increased and so, each order may take more time.

“For well-known restaurants, the waiting time has increased by 15 to 30 minutes since Sunday,” the 42-year-old said.

For Foodpanda delivery rider Faizal Jalal, the number of orders he makes has dipped slightly. He notches up about 25 orders a day usually but this fell by 20 per cent to 20 orders on Sunday, the first day of the tightened measures.

The 45-year-old said that his delivery numbers paled in comparison to the flood of orders he received during the circuit breaker that restricted movemnet and activities in April and May last year, when he was also working as a food delivery rider.

During April last year, the number of orders he fulfilled went up by 50 to 70 per cent, with most people cooped up at home.

“This time, it seems like there are plenty of people walking about to order food in person, rather than staying at home,” Mr Faizal said.

One Deliveroo rider, who wanted to be known only as Mr Zhang, said that the reason food delivery riders are not seeing more orders despite the rise in demand is that increasing numbers of riders are on the delivery platforms.

“Some riders may be dormant on the delivery applications, and when they can no longer do their jobs because of the restrictions, they’ll just go online to do deliveries,” the 38-year-old said.

“If there are more riders delivering than there are people ordering, you get a pretty crappy situation.”

The three delivery platforms told TODAY that they are constantly getting new riders onboard to meet customer demand.

“Our platform also ensures in real-time that orders are assigned and delivered in the most efficient way,” Grab said.

A Deliveroo spokesperson said: “We receive hundreds of rider applications every week and are already onboarding new riders to meet customer demand.”


The waiting times at restaurants may have increased slightly, but ythe riders said that they do not find this an issue. This is because the delays are not as bad as during last year’s circuit breaker.

Grab delivery rider Rey said that the same restaurants that took about 45 minutes to one hour to prepare an order during the circuit breaker are now taking only about 20 minutes.

“Last year was the first time these vendors had overwhelming orders for takeaways and delivery, but this year, they have adapted and are more prepared,” he said.

For Grab delivery rider Lee Hong Aik, the waiting time for some of his orders has gone up from 10 minutes before Sunday to about 30 minutes now, But the 43-year-old takes no issue with this.

“During this period, everyone is rushing for everything, how can you expect an F&B merchant to fulfil an order just for you?

“Sometimes, you have to think for each other and waiting a bit more is okay,” he said.

However, longstanding issues such as impatient customers and inclement weather are still part and parcel of a food delivery rider’s day.

For 37-year-old Grab delivery rider Mohamad Raffe, he tries to explain to customers why there might be delays.

“Sometimes customers can’t wait and ask us why the delivery is delayed,” he said. “We try to message the customers, explain to them that we haven’t gotten the food.”

A 39-year-old Foodpanda delivery rider, who wanted to be known only as KC, said that while delivering groceries under Pandamart, some collection points do not have shelters for the riders.

“This afternoon, we had to walk under the rain to do the collection… it was so horrible.”

Related topics

Covid-19 Deliveroo Grab Foodpanda F&B food delivery rider

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