Indian Zomato faces heat over plans to deliver food in 10 minutes

Indian Zomato faces heat over plans to deliver food in 10 minutes

A delivery man from Zomato, an Indian food delivery startup, prepares to pick up an order from a restaurant in Mumbai, India, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/

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  • Zomato set to launch 10-minute food delivery
  • Critics say the model endangers the safety of delivery workers
  • India’s 10-Minute Grocery Startups Grow and Face Criticism
  • Zomato says he will ensure the pilot’s safety

MUMBAI, March 22 (Reuters) – Indian food delivery giant Zomato Ltd (ZOMT.NS) is facing backlash on social media over its plans to roll out a 10-minute food service which officials say critical, increases the risks to the road safety of delivery people.

CEO Deepinder Goyal said in a Monday night post that the “Zomato Instant” service would rely on a densely localized network of so-called food “finishing stations,” which will house restaurants’ best-selling items and use an algorithm sophisticated demand prediction.

“No one in the world has delivered hot and fresh food in less than 10 minutes on a large scale so far,” Goyal wrote on LinkedIn and Twitter. “We were eager to be the first.”

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Within hours, Zomato’s announcement sparked an outpouring of responses. A lawmaker questioned the business model while executives raised concerns about driver safety on Indian roads.

Zomato, which counts Chinese group Ant (688688.SS) as an investor, did not respond to requests for comment.

Many on social media have urged a rethink, saying food can wait as even ambulances in India are taking longer to reach patients. Some on LinkedIn questioned the need for such a model.

“I don’t want to eat food someone brought to me while putting their life at risk,” wrote Gunjan Rastogi, a researcher at RSB Insights & Analytics in India.

Karti P. Chidambaram, an Indian lawmaker, tweeted: “This is nonsense! This will put undue pressure on the delivery staff.

Zomato’s CEO announcement on Monday began by saying, “We’ll start with a clarification…we’re not putting any pressure on delivery partners.”

After failing to convince many, Goyal posted another tweet on Tuesday emphasizing that the delivery will be “safe” for riders who will face no penalties, urging people to understand the model “before outrage”.

India’s “quick trade” grocery startups have been all the rage with SoftBank-backed Blinkit and its rapidly expanding rival Zepto. Reuters reported in January that delivery bikers said they were pressured to meet deadlines, often resulting in speeding tickets, for fear of being reprimanded by store managers. Read more

Critics say the risks are too high on Indian roads. Even in cities, most roads are riddled with potholes and motorists break basic rules. The World Bank says India has one fatality every four minutes on its roads and crashes kill around 150,000 people every year.

Nevertheless, many customers have been attracted to fast-food grocery services to meet their instant shopping needs.

“I would be happy to have my food in 10 minutes,” LinkedIn user Sonu Sekharan said.

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Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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