July 19, 2021 12:45 PM, EDT

Uber Ramps Up On-Demand Grocery Expansion

An Uber Eats delivery cyclist carries a thermal insulated food backpack An Uber Eats delivery cyclist carries a thermal insulated food backpack. (Bloomberg News)

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Uber Technologies Inc. is accelerating its Uber Eats on-demand grocery delivery service in the U.S., more than doubling the cities where it’s available and partnering with a major grocer as the pandemic-fueled delivery competition heats up.

After launching its grocery delivery service last July, Uber said July 19 that it can now be used in more than 400 locations in the U.S., including major metropolises like New York, San Francisco and Washington.

The ride-hailing and food-delivery service has also joined with Albertsons Cos. to give Uber customers access to 1,200 stores, including Jewel-Osco, Safeway, ACME and Randalls, Uber said in a statement. To tempt new customers to choose Uber over competitors, customers who spend more than $30 will get waived delivery fees and also will be able to request on-demand and scheduled deliveries.

Uber launched its grocery delivery service last summer while COVID lockdowns were still in force in many cities, and the initiative has seen consistent growth, the company said. Almost 3 million consumers order groceries and other essentials every month through Uber, said Raj Beri, Uber’s global head of grocery and new verticals, in the statement.

“Uber is uniquely poised to meet consumers’ growing desire to get the things they need from grocery stores and other merchants in an on-demand fashion within hours — if not minutes — rather than days,” the company said.

The push to accelerate grocery reach and distribution comes as startups and more established names are jockeying for position. The market is currently dominated by Instacart Inc. and Walmart Inc. Smaller startups such as Avo are also trying to muscle into same-day-delivery. Recently DoorDash Inc., which competes with Uber Eats, also announced a partnership with Albertsons.

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