S. Korea's online food delivery service market thrives in 2020

By Park Sae-jin Posted : March 2, 2021, 10:43 Updated : March 2, 2021, 10:48

[Photograph by Yoo Dae-gil = dbeorlf123@ajunews.com]

SEOUL -- South Korea's food delivery market has seen rapid growth thanks to social distancing caused by COVID-19. Online food delivery transactions surged 78.6 percent on-year to 17.4 trillion won ($15.5 billion) in 2020, state data showed. The pandemic prompted even hotel restaurants and Starbucks, an American chain of coffeehouses, to break their pride and launch delivery services.

Before the pandemic, food delivery services used to offer commonly-found menus such as Korean-Chinese cuisine, pizza, fried chicken, and night snacks. Now, consumers can order almost anything from raw tuna meat and a full-course Mexican meal to other menus such as barbecued pork belly meat. Late-night snack lovers were able to grab full-course meals even at midnight.

Because restaurants were forced to observe strict quarantine rules and close their halls at 9:00 p.m., owners can't help adopting door-to-door services using smartphone delivery service apps. According to Statistics Korea, Of 17.4 trillion won worth of online food delivery orders in 2020, 95 percent was made using smartphone delivery service apps.

Ironically, the pandemic has brought a renaissance to South Korea's food delivery market. Almost every menu ranging from roast pork to exotic meals including Mexican and Japanese cuisines are available through food delivery services. Meals are delivered for an extra fee of about 3,000 won ($2.6). Barogo, a deliverymen service company, said that its workers delivered food 133.2 million times in 2020, up 134 percent from a year ago.

"I had a hard time operating my store in early 2020 because many workplaces in Gangnam switched to a remote working system," Lee Jeong-ok, a 43-year-old cafe owner living in southern Seoul, told Aju news. "I started delivery services for snacks, coffee, and drinks in June and my store's sales increased greatly."
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