While food delivery is rapidly developing new jobs and opportunities for restaurants to reach customers, it is also creating new difficulties for workers and businesses to make profit.
COVID-19 pushed both businesses and consumers into recognizing the convenience of e-commerce, said University of British Columbia master of food and resource economics program director Kelleen Wiseman. Despite governments allowing indoor dining, food delivery services are projected to increase by 21.4 per cent in 2022, according to Statisa.
Jolenda and Frank—owners of Danforth restaurant El Sol and Dundas restaurant British Style Fish and Chips, respectively—said their businesses mostly rely on takeout.
“I roll each taco in a wax paper and I set up everything separately.” Said Jolenda on how they ensure takeout stays warm without changing El Sol’s traditional North Mexican cuisine.
Although companies like Uber Eats and Doordash allow restaurants to reach more customers, they also charge commission rates of 15, 20 to 30 per cent of each meal sold on top of delivery fees, according to Wiseman and Jolenda. Jolenda called high commissions “crazy,” adding that rising food costs are driving restaurants to raise prices and change menus.
Wiseman said, “If you used to make 15 per cent, and now you only make 5 per cent, now you need to sell a lot more so this is a great outlet.” She added restaurants now focus on volume of sales due to each meal having a lower profit margin.
Frank said having multiple delivery outlets forces companies to keep their commissions competitive, and Jolenda said El Sol uses Skip the Dishes for its lower commission rate.
The rise of food delivery has opened new jobs for those willing to work as deliverers as well.
“It was hard to find a job during the pandemic,” said Divish Ram, an Uber Eats cyclist, who added applying for the delivery service, “is really easy.”
Ram enjoys the job’s flexibility, and most of his deliveries are 15-30 minutes by bicycle.
“I think the wages are a bit low,” said Ram, “If you’re delivering for Uber Eats there’s no minimum wage at all.”
“You get tips, and then you get paid based on the distance you travel.” He said, adding deliveries downtown, or during certain times like 6:00 p.m. may earn more money. Ram’s average delivery payment is $8.