Ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing recently changed lanes to enter China’s vibrant food delivery market. A fleet of mopeds was despatched in Wuxi for the beta testing week which began April 2nd. By day three, April 4, the platform had taken a third of the market in Wuxi then a week later, on April 9, Didi Waimai (Didi Takeaway) officially launched and handled 334,000 deliveries that day, making it the top food delivery firm in the city.

Didi’s move to food delivery mirror’s Meituan-Dianping’s move into the ride-hailing world, also starting in Jiangsu province. Meituan Dache quietly started taking passengers in nearby Nanjing in February then in Shanghai from mid March, where the company was called in by authorities over regulations. Didi later thanked Meituan for bringing competition to the market.  

Food delivery platforms have previously been hit by food safety problems, but Didi Waimai claims that all restaurants used are licensed and all drivers fully trained.

Didi reportedly threatened its drivers with a permanent ban from their ride hailing system should they switch to picking up rides for Meituan. Meituan is also thought to be offering drivers generous subsidies (in Chinese) to start working for them. Details are yet to emerge of how the battle between Didi and Meituan is being fought for securing food delivery drivers and customers.

TechNode was first alerted to Didi’s plans to start food delivery when job ads for drivers were noticed in Wuxi in early March. The city of around 7 million residents in eastern China’s Jiangsu province is wealthy and a manageable size by Chinese standards. Drivers were offered a minimum of RMB10,000 a month for full time work of over 48 hours a week. While Nanjing, Changsha and Fujian are the hottest contenders to be the next locations for Didi Waimai, job hunters could be the first to find out.