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Sales of online food delivery service in China 2011-2020

China's online food delivery business is booming. Over the last decade its market size has grown nearly 30-fold, reaching 579 billion yuan in 2019. In 2020 more than 40 percent of internet users in China had used online food delivery services. However, this expanding enterprise faces a number of challenges, including violations of labor rights and criticism regarding its environmental impact.

 Another industry in the gig economy

The online food delivery industry has provided approximately five million jobs to delivery workers. The low skill requirement and relatively high income makes food delivery driving one of the most promising career options for China's migrant workers. However, the attraction of flexible work hours and income are not all that they seem. Most full-time food delivery workers work more than ten hours a day and the commission for each order has shrunk significantly. Furthermore, delivery workers are regularly under pressure, often dealing with overflow orders, impatient customers, and meeting strict delivery time requirements.

 Concerns over plastic waste

Recent research drew a strong link between China's air pollution and food delivery consumption. The food delivery industry in China received more than 16 billion orders a year, and more than 80 percent of the food delivery restaurants in China offered only plastic packaging. The overuse of plastic containers caused a considerable amount of plastic waste, contributing not only to landfill waste but also air pollution from the production of plastics.

Market size of online food delivery service in China from 2011 to 2019 with an estimate for 2020

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Release date

June 2020



Survey time period

2011 to 2019

Supplementary notes

One yuan equals around 0.15 U.S. dollars and 0.13 euros (as of September 2020).

The values have been rounded to provide a better understanding of the statistic.

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