Thailand boasts a thriving and diverse market for food delivery apps, owing to its population of over 69 million, a burgeoning middle class, and a rich food culture. This piece explores the present state and the future potential of the food app startup landscape in Thailand, shining a spotlight on three key contenders: Grab, Line Man, and Foodpanda.
Market Growth from 2021 to 2023 The food delivery sector in Thailand has experienced significant expansion in recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which heightened the demand for convenient and contactless food delivery services. According to a report from Statista, the market value of food delivery in Thailand surged by 62% in 2021, soaring to 51.5 billion baht (approximately 1.6 billion USD).
Among the array of food delivery apps in operation, Grab, Line Man, and Foodpanda stand out as the most prominent and competitive players. Grab, an all-in-one app offering ride-hailing, food delivery, digital payments, and more, has stood at the forefront of the Thai food delivery market since it launched GrabFood in 2018. Line Man, a food delivery unicorn backed by Line Corp and GIC, arose from the merger of delivery service Line Man and restaurant review platform Wongnai in 2020, diversifying its services to compete with other players. Notably, Line Man secured $265 million in 2021 and has extended its offerings to include grocery delivery, quick commerce, and cloud kitchen services. Foodpanda, the food delivery arm of Berlin-based Delivery Hero, has been operational in Thailand since 2012 and has diligently invested in marketing, technology, and infrastructure to expand its market share and customer base. In 2020, Foodpanda also launched Pandamart, a cloud kitchen network providing a range of products and brands for delivery.
Leadership and Challenges Thailand’s food delivery market is fiercely competitive and dynamic, characterized by shifting consumer preferences, regulatory changes, and technological advancements. While Grab currently holds the top position, both Line Man and Foodpanda are close contenders, continually enhancing their services to attract and retain customers. Other significant players in the market, such as Gojek, Robinhood, and Lalamove, offer similar or complementary services, further intensifying the competition.
The food delivery industry in Thailand encounters numerous challenges, including escalating costs, slim profit margins, high customer acquisition expenses, and regulatory ambiguities. These apps grapple with mounting outlays, such as driver incentives, commissions, and promotions, all while maintaining competitive prices and high-quality services for their customers.
Moreover, these platforms must vie for customer loyalty and attention, as users frequently switch between different apps based on factors like availability, convenience, and discounts. Additionally, they must navigate the evolving and intricate regulations imposed by the Thai government, encompassing taxation, licensing, and safety standards.
Vast Opportunities Amid Intense Competition The food app startup landscape in Thailand represents one of the most promising and dynamic sectors in Southeast Asia, characterized by substantial opportunities as well as challenges. The food delivery market is poised for further growth in the coming years, propelled by increasing demand, supply, and innovative app offerings.
Although Grab, Line Man, and Foodpanda currently dominate the market, they face fierce competition and a range of hurdles. The future of the food app startup ecosystem in Thailand hinges on the apps’ ability to adapt, differentiate, and collaborate effectively in the swiftly evolving and intricate environment.
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