Singapore

Shared kitchen operator asks watchdog to ‘level playing field’

Smart City Kitchens says two delivery services shutting it out, appeals to competition watchdog

A shared kitchen operator has appealed to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) to "help level the playing field" after being shut out by a second food delivery operator.

Smart City Kitchens general manager Warren Tseng said at a press conference yesterday that Deliveroo and GrabFood - which it estimates to represent about 60 per cent of the online food delivery market here - have refused to list restaurants operating out of its Tampines kitchen on their platforms.

Smart City Kitchens, which touts itself as the first operator here not affiliated with a delivery service, but restaurants must find their own platforms for sale and delivery.

Smart City Kitchens is under a subsidiary of real estate company City Storage Systems, which is owned by ousted Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, who has re-entered the Singapore market, this time in the "ghost kitchen" space.

The first Smart City kitchen opened in Tampines in June, and is rented to about 30 eateries for delivery-only operations.

The CCCS said in response to queries that it is "looking into the matter".

Some eateries operating out of Smart City Kitchens told The Straits Times last weekthat Deliveroo had refused to list them on its platform.

GrabFood has followed suit, they said yesterday.

Deliveroo operates three shared kitchens of its own. GrabFood has said it planned to venture into the space as well.

Foodpanda, which has two shared kitchens here, has continued to partner with those operating out of Smart City Kitchens.

Grab said in response to queries that it is "finding the most efficient way to adopt the cloud kitchen concept onto our platform, whether with partners or on our own".

'AGAINST FAIR PLAY'

Mr Tseng said the moves by Deliveroo and GrabFood "go against the spirit of fair play and healthy competition".

"This has severely affected at least seven tenants who had already started operations and is deeply concerning to over 20 others who are due to commence operations over the coming weeks," he said.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh of NUS Business School said such services have the prerogative to choose suppliers. "If the major food delivery services are ignoring the shared kitchens, other market takers will spring up to fill the gap."

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