Asian American online grocery stores boom in US – World

A delivery man (right) from Fantuan, one of the largest Chinese and Asian food delivery service providers in North America, picks up food from a restaurant in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo provided to China Daily)

In the United States, Asian American online grocery stores and delivery services are growing and transforming eating habits as more and more rare foods from the East become available in the West at the click of a mouse.

Weee!, Yamibuy and Fantuan stores, among many others, have seen significant growth as they compete to become the premier destination for Asian food, beverage and grocery products.

Weee!, an online grocery store, sells foods from multiple cultures, including Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, delivering fresh groceries to 18 states and dry goods to 48 states.

Since its launch in 2015, the site has specialized in finding rare and authentic ingredients for its customers. The Weee! app serves hundreds of thousands of homes, the company said.

Founded by Larry Liu, the company is headquartered in Fremont, California. Most of the platform’s customers are Asian, including many first-generation immigrants. In 2021, the privately held, venture-backed company was valued at $2.8 billion, according to Forbes.

Weee! also markets itself on WeChat to attract Chinese customers and encourages its buyers to upload videos of meals they have prepared with the company’s products.

Nielsen researchers found that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States collectively have $1.3 trillion in spending power, or disposable income.

Online grocery stores that cater to this specific demographic are able to target the estimated 2.38 million Chinese people living in the United States as of 2021 and nearly 300,000 Chinese students in the country, according to U.S. State Department figures.

Fantuan is the largest food delivery app for Chinese-speaking customers in North America and Australia, with an estimated annual revenue of $100 million last year, according to Tech Crunch.

While the app initially focused on restaurant food delivery, it is now moving towards grocery delivery services.

Crystal Li, public relations director of Fantuan, told China Daily: “Both the grocery delivery and online shopping services are operational in major cities. In New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other metropolitan areas, we offer an in-store promotions function similar to Groupon; a user can buy coupons on the app and use them directly in stores.”

Li said the app has more than 3.6 million users in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

“Customers include immigrants, international students, local Asians, such as Chinese born in the United States or Canada, tourists and anyone who appreciates authentic Asian cuisine,” she said.

Vancouver, Canada-based Fantuan closed a $40 million funding round in December as part of a venture-backed growth effort.

In January, it acquired Chowbus, another food delivery company, in a bid to “consolidate Fantuan’s leading position in the U.S. delivery market in Asia,” Li said.

For decades, Chinatowns across the country were the community’s and others’ primary destinations for noodles, meat, fish, herbs and other foods.

But everyone’s shopping habits changed dramatically during the pandemic, when many preferred to shop online and have items delivered.

Yamibuy is an online retailer of Asian snacks. It was founded by Alex Zhou, who came to Kansas from Dalian, Liaoning Province, China, in 2007 to study engineering. The company is valued at more than $100 million.

As a student, Zhou craved his favorite snacks but had trouble finding them locally. This inspired him to create a website that sells the foods he ate growing up.

He told that he hopes his Los Angeles-based site honors Chinese culture. At least 75 percent of its customers are East Asian, but it’s also popular with people from other cultures.

Li said the overall growth of food delivery apps and online Asian grocery stores comes as customers “seek comfort in the flavors of their hometown, even far from home.”

Agencies contributed to this story.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *