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UberEats and Other Food Delivery Services See Boost in Japan
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, food delivery services such as UberEats are enjoying new success in Japan after consumers staying at home turned to them for meals, and became adjusted to this example of the gig economy.
UberEats, which is run by popular ride-sharing service Uber, works with restaurants to deliver food to people at home. Customers browse through a smartphone application allowing them to see shops available in their area. They can then order items from them, and a person working with UberEats delivers it.
The company saw the biggest gains in Japan since the start of the coronavirus outbreak and government recommendations for restaurants to close. They reported a 20 percent increase in the number of restaurants working with UberEats after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and that number has surely gone up in the months since.
Prior to COVID-19, delivery and even take-out were not common parts of the food industry in Japan.
They aren’t alone in the emerging Japanese food delivery business. Demae-can has been operating in the country for several years now, but the company reported an increase by hundreds of thousands of orders as more people stayed at home starting in the spring.
The newfound interest in food delivery services has prompted many other players in the global food delivery industry to enter the market. Foodpanda, a service operated by German company Delivery Hero, entered Japan in September 2020, with officials from the parent company citing a “still largely untapped” market they wanted to take advantage of.
Even domestic companies used to in-person are getting in on the opportunity. Convenience store chain Seven-Eleven plans on expanding a home delivery service in the near future.
UberEats, meanwhile, is finding new ways to innovate as the marketplace becomes more competitive. In August 2020, they started a monthly service where, for ¥980 a month, users can order food without paying as much as they would for individual orders.
While the rise of UberEats and other food delivery services have been celebrated by many, it has also resulted in new issues these companies have to deal with as they become part of everyday life.
The number of cycling traffic violations have gone up significantly in 2020, with officials pointing to the use of bikes during the COVID-19 pandemic as being one reason the number has increased. UberEats was specifically singled out in Aichi Prefecture, as the government asked the company to tell its delivery person to follow rules.
Delivery workers, meanwhile, are trying to get hazard pay and COVID-19 protection through a labor union. Anyone can easily work for UberEats and other delivery apps, but that also means many people don’t receive good pay or protection other workers expect to get.
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Key Words and Expressions
- become adjusted to — to become more familiar with a new circumstance
- gig economy — an economic system characterized by people having temporary short-time jobs rather than having permanent jobs
- ride-sharing service — a service that allows people to arrange a ride or delivery through a smartphone application or a website
- emerging — becoming to have economic power or success
- enter the market — activities associated with starting business in a targeted area
- untapped market — a market that has not been met by an existing product or a service
- traffic violations — an act that violate the rules of the road
- hazard pay — extra money that is paid for working under dangerous conditions
- labor union — an organized association of workers, formed to protect their rights
- receive good pay or protection — to get adequate compensation or job security
Reading Comprehension Test
- How does UberEats work?
a. Restaurants send surprise meals to homes in their areas.
b. Customers order food via an app and it is delivered to them.
c. Customers make reservations at restaurants.
d. The government uses it to distribute food so it doesn’t go to waste.
- Why is Delivery Hero expanding to Japan?
a. They have started a partnership with Seven-Eleven.
b. They see an untapped market they can take advantage of.
c. They have been invited by the Japanese government to start.
d. They have been invited by UberEats to start.
- Which of the following isn’t a problem faced by food delivery apps?
a. Delivery people want hazard pay.
b. They are being linked to a rise in cycling traffic violations.
c. Delivery people want protection from coronavirus.
d. Restaurants did not cooperate with them during the pandemic.
- Why has UberEats done well in 2020 in Japan?
- What did Aichi Prefecture tell UberEats?