A deep dive into the Food Delivery Market in South East Asia (SEA) – Now and Post Coronavirus

SINGAPORE, 12 January 2021 — Momentum Works is pleased to share our MW Food Delivery Platforms in Southeast Asia report with the following key highlights: 

  • The total food delivery GMV in SEA reached an estimate of US$11.9bil in 2020, following a 183% year-on-year growth. Covid-19 proved to be a key accelerant for online food delivery platforms. Refer to Appendix A below for food delivery growth 2018-20.  
  • Economic growth, urbanisation, and smartphone penetration provided the natural impetus for growth. Three out of the six countries achieved 5X growth in food services spend per capita over the last 20 years.  
  • The three largest food delivery markets out of the six researched markets in SEA are Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, contributing US$3.7bil, US$2.8bil, and US$2.4bil in GMV respectively in 2020. It is notable that whilst Singapore’s population is 2% of Indonesia, the country generates 65% as much GMV.


  • Grab contributed close to half of the region’s food delivery GMV at an estimate of US$5.9bil. The super app, which also offers ride hailing and financial services, leads in five out of six Southeast Asian markets in 2020. This is followed by Foodpanda (US$2.52bil) and Go-Jek (US$2.0bil). Refer to Appendix B for marketshare breakdown of food delivery players across the 6 markets. 
  • As the region develops and disposable income increases, consumption of food delivery services will continue to grow in the years to come. In the meantime, to drive greater penetration of food delivery services in the region, players can look to:
    • Capture greater transaction volumes and density to balance against low food prices
    • Tailor food delivery services to independent restaurants with limited resources and varying levels of technological and operational capabilities 
    • Invest in infrastructure necessary for food delivery services to scale and adopt localised approaches to address market differences
    • Balance costs of running food delivery services against high growth to reach profitability sooner 
  • The food delivery landscape in SEA remains competitive. Global and homegrown players have adopted different strategies to power their growth in Southeast Asia. Global players like Foodpanda and Deliveroo offer food delivery as a pure-play service, while Grab and GoJek food delivery services are part of a much broader set of consumer offerings under respective super apps. In-country players, including LineMan and Now, are part of a larger group/app offering multiple services too.


  • Super App players like Grab and GoJek are able to convert existing customers from ride hailing and leverage existing infrastructure including payment and despatching, and are therefore more cost-efficient and therefore more sustainable in the region.  
  • In 2020, Foodpanda (together with its sister company Baemin) continued to focus on new customer acquisition through heavy promotional spend, while Grab and Gojek both branched into business-to-business services to capture new revenue streams. 
  • From a consumer perspective, selection, speed, quality/reliability and costs are the four major value propositions. Players need to excel in at least two out of the four areas to satisfy consumer needs – achieving all four is not feasible.  
  • Meituan’s success (net profit since Q2 2020) in China, a country where food and labour costs are low, show that growth and profitability are not mutually exclusive for a super app. It offers many lessons that the region’s  players could learn from.  

To achieve profitability and long term sustainability, platforms need to control acquisition/retention costs, sustain their unit economics, and generate ancillary revenue including advertising, financing and other B2B services.


About Momentum Works

A Singapore-headquartered venture outfit, Momentum Works builds, scales and manages tech ventures across the emerging world, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia. Combining strategic understanding/proprietary market insights, execution experience and a global community, Momentum Works also consults on strategy, venture financing and other areas of operations.

For more information

Please see attached with this release and the full report accompanying this release. For further enquiries, please contact us at [email protected]


Appendix A 


Appendix B 


Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].


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Prior to Momentum Works, Yorlin was in the financial sector in SIngapore and Hong Kong for 10 years - working with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, AXA and HSBC. She feels that corporate knowledge are undervalued in the start-up ecosystem and want to change this. At Momentum Works, she manages operations, overseeing joint venture operations with partners from all over the world. She always makes time to speak to people as you never know what’s the next game changer in the fickle world of fintech, e-commerce or mobile internet. In her free time, you can find her being the slave to her 5 cats.