The Battle for Market Share: Food Delivery Apps’ $20 Billion Loss

by Ella

Online food delivery giants in Europe and the US, including Deliveroo, Just Eat Takeaway, Delivery Hero, and DoorDash, have collectively incurred over $20 billion in operating losses since going public. Despite experiencing significant growth during the pandemic, these companies are now facing challenges in a tougher economic environment.

Factors Contributing to Losses

Investor Scrutiny: Investors are increasingly focused on profitability, particularly as interest rates rise. This shift in focus has led to greater scrutiny of the business models of food delivery companies.


High Operating Costs: Operating costs, including marketing expenses, remain high for these companies. Additionally, the sector faces ongoing regulatory and labor rights scrutiny, which adds to operational challenges.


Competition and Market Dynamics: The food delivery sector is highly competitive, leading to aggressive pricing strategies and market consolidation. Companies are also exploring new revenue streams, such as grocery delivery and advertising, to offset slowing sales growth.


Strategies for Profitability

Focus on Free Cash Flow: Companies are shifting their focus towards generating positive free cash flow on an annual basis. This metric provides a more accurate reflection of a company’s financial health compared to adjusted earnings measures.


Expansion and Consolidation: Some companies are expanding into new markets, while others are consolidating their operations to focus on key regions where they can dominate.

Diversification of Services: Diversifying services beyond food delivery, such as offering grocery delivery and advertising, can help increase revenue and improve economies of scale.

Challenges and Considerations

Acquisitions and Impairments: Historic deals and acquisitions have led to substantial writedowns for some companies, impacting their bottom lines. Consistent writedowns may indicate challenges in executing operations or entering new markets.

Employee Share Awards: Expenses related to employee share awards have also contributed to operating losses for some companies, highlighting the importance of managing compensation costs effectively.

In conclusion, while the online food delivery sector continues to face challenges, there is optimism among analysts that companies can improve their financial performance by focusing on profitability, expanding strategically, and diversifying their services. However, achieving sustainable growth in a competitive market will require careful navigation of regulatory, operational, and financial hurdles.



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