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Food delivery platforms set up industry association to shape development and growth

The three major food-delivery companies here - Grab, foodpanda and Deliveroo - have joined forces to set up an industry association to represent digital platforms, in a move that could shift the dynamics within the sector.

Breaking from the typically cut-throat competition seen among e-commerce and online service platforms, the launch of the Digital Platforms Industry Association (DPIA) on Thursday (Aug 18) will see the three firms acting collectively to improve areas such as career resilience and merchant development, they said.

It is unclear what impact the move would have on consumers.

The DPIA plans to identify areas for improvement and work with the Government and other stakeholders to create solutions that "reflect the voices of its delivery partners and merchants".

It also intends to introduce an industry code of practice that will incorporate best practices and principles relating to health and safety, added the firms.

This development comes as the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers enters the latter stages of its deliberations.

Set up by the Manpower Ministry in September last year, the committee was tasked with looking for ways to better protect workers who rely on digital platforms for income, and it has been in active discussions with individual platform companies as part of its work.

Recommendations on how to improve retirement and housing adequacy, work injury compensation and bargaining power for cabbies, private-hire car drivers and freelance delivery workers are expected to be announced later this year.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the DPIA said its members will still engage individually with the advisory committee, as well as the Government and the National Delivery Champions Association, as each company has its own business model and interests.

There are also currently no plans for wider data sharing between members.

Instead, the intention is for there to be greater collaboration across the industry, said a DPIA spokesman. "DPIA members are committed to working together to find common ground in the spirit of improving the platform ecosystem," she added, without giving further details.

On whether the setting up of the DPIA could potentially affect competition or create conflicts of interest among its members, the association said it will comply with the rules of Registry of Societies of Singapore as well as the Competition Act in Singapore.

In a joint statement on Thursday (Aug 18), Grab, foodpanda and Deliveroo said the DPIA will help to consolidate the expertise of the three companies, and shape the development and growth of the digital platform industry within Singapore's economy.

The three had previously teamed up in March to conduct a joint survey of 4,200 food-delivery riders in Singapore - the first poll of its kind here.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon told Parliament last month that the Workplace Safety and Health Council is working with food and goods delivery companies here to review their work processes after traffic accidents claimed the lives of five delivery-platform workers over an 18-month period.

"DPIA's founders believe that creating real and sustainable change requires consistent support from all stakeholders," Grab, foodpanda and Deliveroo said.

While the initial focus of the association is on food delivery, there are plans to expand membership to other sectors, such as ride-hailing or goods delivery.

The association's executive committee will also allow for equal representation of each member, DPIA said. Its first president is Mr Jason Parke, general manager and head of operations at Deliveroo Singapore.

"The platform economy has been constantly evolving over the last few years, introducing more ideas that have changed the way we live and work," DPIA said.

"Having a dedicated association allows the industry to come together to work on and respond to these ever-changing needs."

Last year, the total gross merchandise value for food delivery in South-east Asia hit a new peak of US$15.5 billion (S$21.4 billion), according to a report by venture builder Momentum Works.

This was a 30 per cent increase from 2020's high of US$11.9 billion, which came on the back of a surge in demand following Covid-19 restrictions.

According to Hong Kong-based data platform Measurable AI, Grab led the food-delivery market in Singapore last year, averaging 53.5 per cent market share, followed by foodpanda at around 38 per cent market share, and Deliveroo, at about 11 per cent.

GIG ECONOMYTECHNOLOGY SECTORgrab