News / Toronto

Food delivery war waged in Toronto

City called 'Wild West' in battle for tastebuds as new competition rolls into town.

Favour’s delivery people, called “Runners,” are recognizable by their tuxedo T-shirts.

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Favour’s delivery people, called “Runners,” are recognizable by their tuxedo T-shirts.

Toronto’s online food ordering and delivery market is “like the Wild West” and later this week, a big, well-funded U.S. player will be strolling into town.

Favour, a venture-capital-backed delivery company, will launch on Thursday — entering a very crowded and competitive market that has delivery services locked in a literal food fight. 

Favour employs more than 3,000 “Runners” in 10 American cities. They wear tuxedo-print T-shirts when they bring hot food — or anything else that can be picked up and delivered — to your door.

In the States, the service goes by Favor, without the Canadian “U.”

The company will specialize in restaurants that don’t currently offer delivery, including Khao San Road, Burrito Boyz and Pizzeria Libretto. But runners will pick up food from anywhere, said co-founder Ben Doherty.

There are at least seven companies that deliver Toronto restaurant food to your door from an online order, including the biggest player, UK-based JUST EAT, plus Uber EATS  — in which Uber drivers deliver food — and courier company Hurrier, which has a business model similar to Favour.

“It’s like the Wild West,” Luke Sheenan, marketing director for JUST EAT Canada, said about the food-delivery scene in Toronto and across the GTA. “But we actually think it’s good thing because it keeps us on our toes and we’re always keen to see innovation.”

Toronto’s appetites appear to be keeping up because the appearances of the many new food delivery services the city hasn’t reduced demand, he said.

Vi Tran, director of sales for Toronto-based Tasteaway.com, agrees with the “Wild West” characterization. His company has been around for 3 1/2  years, and runs a loyalty program to set it apart from other sites in the crowded market.

“Maybe, one day we’ll be as big as Just Eat,” he said.

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