Sapporo, the capital of the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido, is seeing intensifying competition among food delivery firms catering to people who prefer to eat at home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In a three-way rivalry, two newcomers Wolt and Uber Eats are challenging the lead of forerunner Demae-can Co. Finland's Wolt entered the Sapporo market in June, followed by the U.S. firm in July.
"Sapporo is attractive with a big market, a large of number of restaurants and rich food culture," says Yukiko Muto, president of Uber Eats, Japan.
At its launch in Sapporo on July 28, Uber Eats had more than 200 member restaurants and boasts a quick delivery within 30 minutes, using the know-how of Uber's ride-hailing service.
"Uber's expertise realizes a well-balanced linkage of member restaurants, delivery partners and customers," Muto says.
Wolt started with a membership of 60 and expanded it to 150 in a month. Unlike Uber, Wolt has a management office in Sapporo, which allows effective marketing to meet local needs, according to Akira Shintaku, marketing manager of Wolt Japan.
With its membership expected to reach 200 shortly, Wolt aims to differentiate itself from rivals with high-quality member restaurants, Shintaku says.
Demae-can, meanwhile, entered the local market last year. It now has about 1,000 member restaurants in Hokkaido, mainly in Sapporo. Demae-can can cater to almost anywhere in Sapporo, while the two newcomers cover only parts of the city.
Wolt and Uber Eats use bicycles or motorcycles for delivery, but Demae-can makes its local contractors deliver by car.
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