You Are Paying Up to 45% More By Ordering Food Deliveries! (I Spent $5,000 on GrabFood and Foodpanda)

Many of us, including myself, is guilty of using food delivery platforms such as GrabFood and Foodpanda to buy a little convenience when we are feeling a little lazy.

Before I go any further, I would like to add that I’m a subscriber of both Grab Unlimited ($7.99/month) and PandaPro ($35.88/year).

Also, year-to-date I have spent a total of $2998.72 on on GrabFood

And another $2023.29 on Foodpanda

My precise records on You Need A Budget (YNAB) meant that I can pull out these ridiculous sounding numbers in mere seconds and I have no way of pretending that I didn’t spend five grand on food deliveries hahahaha.

Anyway, if you wanna see my all-time spend no food deliveries, wait till the end of the blog post!

Once again, it comes down to the basics: exchanging one resource (money) for another (time).

Let’s make it a little more thought-provoking when you are thinking of making a food delivery order next time, shall we?

Have you ever had the tingling feeling at the back of your neck when you’re scrolling through GrabFood or Foodpanda, that you kinda recall that the price of certain items wasn’t quite as high as what you’re seeing on your phone?

And no – it isn’t due to inflation.

The truth is that prices on food delivery platforms can be astoundingly different i.e. very much higher compared to in-store dining or takeaways.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s disregard the extra money we have to pay for takeaways containers (usually 20 cents or 30 cents each) when buying food and the time saved etc.

The idea is to do a simple comparison of what the in-store price would look like versus what we actually see on delivery platforms.

I won’t be adding screenshots since they don’t really help much – you can always verify such discrepancies in pricing when you’re using GrabFood or Foodpanda next time.

Warning – you will not be able to unsee this blog post and you’ll forever be wondering if your favourite stalls are overcharging you hideously on delivery platforms until you verify the prices in person.

So, I took a leisurely walk and checked out a variety of food businesses in the area.

Surprisingly, the mark-up in pricing on food delivery apps vs the in-store pricing has an extremely wide range of different behaviors.

Some owners marked it up by an incredible 45% whereas a rare few actually had a mind-boggling 0% price difference!

I have include four examples below just so that we would have a nice sample of what we’re seeing nowadays.

If you’re interested in seeing more, leave me a message and I can do a follow-up post.

1. Crystal Jade Go

Crystal Jade Go didn’t really go overboard with the pricing and I’m happy to say that it is one of the stalls that I consistently go back to, when I’m using food delivery platforms.

The price hike is about 11% to 12% which is acceptable in my opinion.

Food In-store
Price (1)
Price (2)
Diff. (%)
/ (2)
Signature Roast Bowl $8.80 $9.80 11% 90%
Signature Chicken & Duck Congee $8.20 $9.20 12% 89%
Siew Mai with Fish Roe $4.50 $5.00 11% 90%

The last column is there for a reason and I’ll elaborate on its use later.

2. Maruhachi Donburi & Curry

Maruhachi is a smaller business and to be fair to them, I have referenced this link to their menu and price.

I also recall that the pricing is accurate as of the last time when I visited.

Food In-store
Price (1)
Price (2)
Diff. (%)
/ (2)
Chicken Katsu Curry $8.80 $12.80 45% 69%
Ebi Fry Curry $12.80 $16.80 31% 76%
Black-pig Katsu Set $15.80 $20.80 31% 76%

An eye-watering price difference of up to 45% can be observed.

Granted that a big cut goes to Grab and the delivery rider (anyone knows the numbers?), I can understand that the mark-up may be a necessary evil to maintain a decent profit-margin.

3. Nam Kee Pau

While Nam Kee Pau is a bigger company, it would probably be more accurate to classify it as a SME.

Food In-store
Price (1)
Price (2)
Diff. (%)
/ (2)
Ban Mian $4.70 $6.50 38% 72%
Koka Noodles $4.70 $6.50 38% 72%
Siew Mai $0.90 $1.30 44% 69%

Likewise, we’re observing a significant price difference when ordering via a delivery app,

Bonus. Ya Kun

My favourite example of this blog post has to be Ya Kun.

Food In-store
Diff. (%)
Kaya Butter Toast Set $5.60 $5.60 0%

With an absolutely amazing price difference of 0%, Ya Kun takes the win (by absorbing the platform fees) and is definitely one of the most value-for-money options on food delivery apps.

We do have to pay for delivery, though.

Why I still use food delivery apps

Given that I have known the above for a long time, why do I keep using both GrabFood and Foodpanda?

a) Convenience!

Exchanging money for time is obviously the whole idea, and there are certain places that are just a little hard to get to since I don’t drive.

Even for places that we can easily get to via public transport, the cost for 2-pax back and forth just isn’t worth the effort sometimes.

In a situation whereby time is a more readily resource than money (did you say FIRE?), the decision process could be very different since going out for food could be a leisurely activity.

b) Savings?

Wait a minute, I thought we have just illustrated that pricing is almost always against us?

Yes, but remember I said I am a subscriber of Grab Unlimited and PandaPro?

Besides free deliveries, more importantly is that GrabUnlimited grants 20% off self pick-up orders whereas PandaPro gives 25% off self pick-up orders for some vendors.

Thankfully, I’m walking distance to seven coffeeshops and one tiny sub-urban mall which gives me plenty of self pick-up options.

To determine if we’re getting a good deal or not, refer to last column of the table above.

For example, we would be getting cost-savings if we’re ordering self pick-up orders from Crystal Jade Go (we want to see 80% to 100%, lower than that is no-go) whereas we would still be losing out in monetary terms if we’re ordering from Maruhachi or Nam Kee Pau.

Then again, that’s disregarding time savings which could be an important factor depending on your personal situation.

To me, it matters sometimes if I don’t have to wait 20 minutes at the restaurant for my food during peak hour.

At the end of the day, we are all willing parties in this transaction, and the mark-up in prices is a necessary evil to accommodate the survival of F&B businesses, delivery platform and delivery riders.

The next time we pick up our phones to order a food delivery, perhaps take a second consider the “financial ruin” (see below) it can cause us.

All-time Grab Food spend (tracked via YNAB)
All-time Foodpanda spend (tracked via YNAB)

$21,000?! Cowabunga!

Why not cook or take a walk to buy food and clock a little exercise instead?

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