Zomato’s food delivery volumes have reached pre-COVID levels, with a “number of cities” now at over 120% of the peaks set before the pandemic, the company’s co-founder Deepinder Goyal claimed in a tweet. Going forward, the company is expecting the food delivery sector to grow at 15% to 25% of pre-COVID levels, he said, and added that since March 23, the first day of several lockdowns in India, Zomato has delivered a total of 9.2 crore orders. Zomato’s closest rival, Swiggy also said that its food delivery business has recovered to 80-85% of pre-COVID order values, as the food aggregator received  over 10 crore orders for food, groceries, medicines, and other household items since the lockdown.

Swiggy saw ‘double digit’ growth in past five weeks: “Over 100 million [10 crore] orders were placed on the Swiggy app for food, groceries, medicines and other household items since the lockdown. Almost 200+ cities have reached 90% of their pre-COVID GMV [gross merchandise value] levels with 70+ cities seeing a full recovery. In fact, they have seen double-digit growth over the past 4-5 weeks, especially when the lockdown opened and when the consumer fear factor of COVID subdued. Certain micro pockets within the country have also reached 200% of their pre-COVID levels,” a Swiggy spokesperson said in a statement to MediaNama.

COVID-19 hit Zomato, Swiggy, and dine out restaurants hard: The food delivery and dine out sector were among the most badly hit industries due to the coronavirus pandemic. In August, Zomato said that the food delivery industry had “largely recovered”, but noted that a number of dine-in restaurants are looking at an uncertain future, as several of them have already permanently shut shop. In fact, the company estimated that around 40% restaurants in India that shut due to the lockdowns may not be able to reopen at all.

A number of people delivering food for Swiggy have taken to the streets over the past month, in protest against a massive drop in income over the past few weeks. The delivery persons claim that that the food-delivery aggregator changed the payment and incentive structure around a month ago, due to which they make only around Rs 15 per order, from around Rs 35 earlier.

In the course of the pandemic, both Swiggy and Zomato have laid off employees to manage costs. Swiggy laid off more than 1,400 employees, whereas Zomato had to let go around 13% of its workforce. Both the companies have also forayed into alcohol deliveries in multiple states.

Goyal also said that there have been “zero reported cases of COVID transmission through food delivery, or our food delivery agents”. In April, the company had said that a delivery person delivering food in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar had tested positive for the virus, following which 72 families had to be quarantined. In another instance, Box8, which delivers food exclusively via Zomato, had also said that one of its employees had tested positive for the virus.

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