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The National Restaurant Association of India has complained to the country’s Competition Commission about practices by food-delivery apps Zomato and Swiggy that it considers unfair. Indian eateries have been in a wrangle with these internet services over the cut they take of what customers pay. This slice is said to have widened as restaurant reliance on online orders has grown. Food-makers are crying foul not just over being pushed into price-offs to get the desired app display, but also over alleged violations of platform-neutrality, with the two apps charged with running ‘cloud kitchens’ of their own.

That delivery apps have the market heft to bully eateries is clear. The pandemic’s lock-ins have only hastened a shift in power towards the consumer interface. Apps are now a vital food-service window and the two have the bulk of our orders wrapped up. It’s effectively a duopoly of Swiggy and Zomato. Ola bought Foodpanda India in 2017 only to suspend this business later, and UberEats was snapped up last year by Zomato, which is now set to go public with a share offer. What’s not so obvious is what exactly amounts to an abuse of such dominance. This is a case to watch.

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