Uber is doubling down on food delivery, apparently starting with groceries in Canada

Jack Taylor/Getty ImagesAn Uber Eats rider in central London.
  • Uber is hiring a head of grocery product in Toronto, according to a new job posting this week.
  • The company has big ambitions to grow its Canadian presence, employees have told Business Insider.
  • Uber Eats is one of its fastest-growing segments, and delivering groceries could make its potential market even larger.

Uber is rapidly staffing up its Toronto office, and a new job posting on the ride-hailing giant’s website could be a window into those ambitions.

Uber Eats is hiring a head of grocery product, according to a job posting from Thursday. The role is meant to “build the organisation and globally scale a brand new product offering which will fundamentally evolve how people purchase their groceries.”

Uber has big ambitions to grow its Canadian presence through staffing up its office in the country’s largest city, company employees told Business Insider previously, and this is the latest example of those ambitions.

It’s also another sign of the company’s ambitions for Uber Eats, which is one of the company’s fastest-growing units. In its latest self-reported financials, Uber said that Eats accounted for $US2.1 billion of its overall gross bookings in the third quarter of 2018 and that it was growing at more than 150% annually.

In a statement to Business Insider, Uber said its Eats team was “always looking to expand into new areas where our technology can help people get food more easily and efficiently.”

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi previously hinted back in October at the company’s big ambitions to deliver things other than people.

“With Eats, we’re getting into the business of moving food around,” he said at a Vanity Fair summit. “I think that this product of delivering great quality food to you at home in 30 minutes or less is magical and is going to move into grocery in a way that’s fundamental, and a lot more people are going to be eating at home.”

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Grocery delivery could be a much larger market than just on-demand meals, experts estimate. Online grocery sales today make up just 5.5% of all grocery sales, according to the advisory firm Bricks Meets Clicks.

Uber has been in talks to purchase the UK-based delivery startup Deliveroo, but the talks have reportedly stalled over valuations that are “miles apart” between the two sides. The Financial Times said Uber’s offer for the six-year-old company was less than $US2 billion, with Deliveroo said to be eyeing a $US4 billion valuation.

Uber Eats also recently joined the Uber for Business platform, allowing employees of participating companies to expense meals in addition to car rides. It’s a move that makes it easier for companies to manage expenses and payroll, and it gives Uber a locked-in source of revenue as opposed to solely relying on the consumer business.

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