Asia Minute: Coronavirus and Food Delivery

Feb 12, 2020

The coronavirus continues to dominate news coverage in China and across Asia. There’s one part of the story that is getting less attention, but it’s growing.

The delivery of food, and groceries, is a business that’s booming in many Asian cities.

People don’t want to go out, there’s concern about the coronavirus and an uncertainty about how it is spread. But especially in China, there’s also an uncertainty about the health of the delivery people.

The Financial Times reports many food companies are now including a “reassurance guarantee” along with the food — a piece of paper with the temperature of the cook, food handlers and delivery person — many of whom carry handheld temperature sensors to prove they’re not feverish.

The parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut is offering what it calls “contactless” delivery — where the delivery person drops off the order while standing at least ten feet away from the person who ordered it.

Despite the precautions, the South China Morning Post reports delivery of cooked meals has dropped in mainland China, while those for fresh vegetables and other groceries have increased — as more people want to cook their own meals at home.

Orders for both kinds of deliveries have spiked higher in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Local tabloid “The New Paper” quotes a spokesman for a Singapore food delivery company as saying it no longer requires customers to sign the company’s electronic devices to certify delivery – eliminating one more kind of physical interaction.