GrabFood has become the latest food delivery operator to launch a kitchen space housing multiple restaurant brands, turning the heat up on competition among Singapore's three major food delivery services.
Residents in parts of Upper Bukit Timah, Bukit Batok and Bukit Gombak can now order food items from more than 10 brands, including Wolf Burgers and PlayMade, in a single order through the app. Orders can also be made for pickup or consumption in the kitchen's dine-in area in Hillview.
Deliveroo and foodpanda already operate their own shared kitchen spaces in Singapore, also known as ghost or cloud kitchens. The concept has caught on as demand for food delivery grows, and eateries use it as a way to expand or create new brands without the costs of a dine-in establishment.
GrabFood's head of regional operations Lim Kell Jay said yesterday that the GrabKitchen launch in Singapore brings its network of cloud kitchens to 50 across five countries in the South-east Asian region.
There are plans to open more kitchens in the coming year, and to roll out services for merchants such as a bulk procurement platform for kitchen supplies and ingredients.
GrabFood, which is in seven countries, saw more than five times' growth in gross merchandise value and a 173 per cent increase in active users last year, Mr Lim said.
GrabFood did not comment on the cost of the 6,000 sq ft kitchen space or its commercial arrangements with tenants. Deliveroo and foodpanda both take a commission on orders in lieu of rental fees.
Shared kitchens have fuelled the growth of virtual restaurant brands, created by entrepreneurs eager to avoid bricks-and-mortar costs, and established brands testing new concepts.
Deliveroo, which was the first to open a shared kitchen here in 2017, has fostered the creation of 75 virtual brands, said its Singapore general manager Siddharth Shanker.
Due to growing interest from restaurant partners and diners, Deliveroo now has three kitchen sites that offer a total of 47 menus.
Foodpanda also runs three kitchens here and plans to open more this year.
Its Singapore managing director Luc Andreani said: "With many neighbourhoods in Singapore that are still underserved in terms of variety of food available, there is huge potential in the concept."
Spoonful Meals, a cloud kitchen operator offering menus from three virtual brands, began operating here last October and does deliveries through foodpanda. Founder Max von Poelnitz said sales are up 30 per cent over last month, and at least 10 locations will be launched in Singapore over the next 18 months.
Mr Ian Lin, who operates three restaurant brands out of a 17 sq m unit in GrabKitchen, created his first delivery-only brand, Lady Boss Mala, to cater to demand in the area.
His other two eateries - Thai Dynasty and Bowl & Grill - have units in foodcourts here.
"Signage in a foodcourt alone can cost $3,000, and manpower is another big point of savings," Mr Lin said of his decision to join GrabKitchen.
"The bulk procurement platform would be a useful option too because it's no secret that in food and beverage, the margins are thin, so anything that can help to reduce operational costs is good."