Uber Eats and Mr D’s big plans

Demand for fast food delivery services in South Africa, like those from Uber Eats and Mr D, continues to grow, and newer services like on-demand grocery deliveries are proving popular.

This is according to Mr D Food and Uber Eats’ head of strategy and planning for sub-Saharan Africa business, Daniele Joubert, who also told MyBroadband about their plans for 2024.

We asked Mr D and Uber Eats how the departure of Bolt Foods from South Africa had impacted the fast food delivery space and their respective businesses.

However, both companies declined to comment on the impact of Bolt’s departure.

“While we are unable to comment specifically on business performance, Uber Eats continues to experience positive trends and growth in the highly competitive South African market,” Daniele Joubert, head of strategy and planning for Uber Eats’ sub-Saharan Africa business.

Mr D said demand on its platform is increasing incrementally.

“Our customers can enjoy a variety of local and franchised restaurant options on our app, along with the ability to shop at instore prices from national grocery chain, Pick n Pay, and independent stores that include Le Creuset and Lush, amongst others,” it added.

Regarding plans for 2024, Uber Eats’ Joubert said the company would continue to build on several areas, including affordability, on-demand grocery deliveries, fostering economic development in townships, and empowering merchants.

“We are excited about the delivery landscape in South Africa and the opportunities to grow the business while continuing to expand on the use cases we offer our users,” she said.

“Over the years, we have gained valuable insights into the individuals, families and communities that we create products and services for, and these insights point to the evolving needs of consumers based on their dynamic day-to-day realities, and we believe we are well-poised to meet those needs.”

Mr D told MyBroadband that it would continue evolving its platform and plans to add more merchants and launch new promotions in 2024.

“Our App keeps evolving to meet the demand for effortless convenience, and our partnerships keep growing to provide easy-to-use, on-demand solutions,” it said.

“From Panarottis to Pick n Pay to Petfood and Posies, we will keep adding more shops and more outlets while offering our customers great promotions, great discounts and great service in 2024.”

In October 2023, Bolt announced it would shut down its food delivery service in South Africa in December that same year.

“At this time, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue our food delivery operations in South Africa due to business reasons,” a Bolt spokesperson told MyBroadband.

“The decision to exit this market is necessary to streamline our resources and maximise our overall efficiency as a company.”

The Bolt Food app stopped taking customer orders in South Africa on 8 December 2023.

Bolt Food courier

The company said it remains fully committed to its other verticals in the country, which include its ride-hailing and same-day parcel delivery services.

In November 2023, it revealed that anti-competitive behaviour in the food delivery space had led to its decision to shut down Bolt Food.

It said dominant competitors have exclusive agreements with several restaurants, prohibiting them from selling products on other food delivery platforms.

The competition commission even alluded to the issue in its market inquiry into online intermediary platforms.

“Our submission to the commission sought to highlight challenges in the food delivery space,” said Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar, head of public policy at Bolt.

“The commission … found dominant players had arrangements that meant certain service providers, which account for the bulk of food delivery in the country, had exclusive arrangements with them.”

In its report, the Competition Commission said there were indications that some features of online intermediation platforms could be considered anti-competitive and instructed companies like Uber Eats, Mr D, and Bolt to revise their practices.

This included ending any incentives offered to outlets to steer demand their way.

Gasnolar said Bolt will focus on its short-trip and last-mile parcel delivery services following the scrapping of Bolt Food and added that it plans to introduce electric bike and scooter offerings to its platform.

Bolt Food launched in South Africa in Cape Town in April 2020 before expanding to parts of Johannesburg once it reached 800 restaurants in the Mother City.

Then-Bolt Food country manager James Townsend-Rose said the company planned to expand the service to other South African metros “in the coming months”, with its first targets being Pretoria and Durban.

However, its expansion beyond Johannesburg and Cape Town never happened.

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Uber Eats and Mr D’s big plans