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Technology

Uber Eats Japan starts monthly unlimited plan to fence out rivals

Top delivery platform eager to keep second-ranked Demae-can at bay

Uber Eats is the biggest meal delivery platform in Japan. (Photo by Kai Fujii)

TOKYO -- Uber Technologies has begun to offer a food delivery subscription in Japan that replaces per-order fees, tapping into the growing demand from consumers holed up at home from the coronavirus.

Uber Eats Japan will start delivering unlimited meals to customers for 980 yen ($9.30) a month, as long as each order contains at least 1,200 yen worth of food -- a threshold  most orders already meet, the company says.

The subscription became available to some customers on Thursday, and will be available to all on Saturday.

Uber Eats Japan normally calculates delivery fees for each order based on distance, the number of delivery staff available, and the number of orders in the system. Delivery people will continue to receive the same commissions on subscription-based orders.

Uber Eats is Japan's biggest player in meal delivery, with roughly 30,000 restaurants on its platform. But with second-ranked Demae-can hot on its heels, it hopes to solidify its market share through the new subscription model.

Some smaller food delivery platforms also offer subscriptions. Uber Eats' entry into the field could trigger a price war.

Demand for meal delivery has surged as the pandemic keeps more people at home. A June survey by Tokyo-based MMD Labo found that 46% of respondents had used a food delivery service in the past year, up 17 points from August 2019.

Uber has launched meal delivery subscriptions in markets including the U.S. and Taiwan.

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