Skip to content
Subscriber Only

China's Hottest Internet Sector Is Old-Fashioned Food Delivery

  • Restaurant delivery outpaced ride-sharing, online payments
  • Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu discounts are spurring growth
Food delivery in China
Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China’s fastest-growing online industry segment in the first half was food delivery, as startups backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. touted discounts and marshaled armies of people to get restaurant meals to the homes of almost 300 million.

The population of people who rang up meals from phones and computers surged 41.6 percent to 295 million over the first six months, the government’s online industry overseers said in a biennial internet snapshot Friday. That’s well in excess of other markets, including the 7.7 percent user growth in digital payments and 23.7 percent rise in ride-hailing, both more mature sectors.