(Bloomberg) -- Uber Technologies Inc. is exploring ways to grow its grocery offering with rapid delivery in Europe, after a rapid increase in offerings that bring goods to consumers’ doorsteps in as little as 15 minutes, according to people familiar with the matter.  

The potential expansion of San Francisco-based Uber’s offering abroad underscores the ride-hailing giant’s broader push into delivery, an increasingly important segment for the company, which operates Uber Eats. Uber said earlier this year its grocery delivery business -- introduced just last summer -- was on track to see $3 billion a year in bookings.

A spokesman for Uber declined to comment.

The pandemic spurred demand for delivery of everything from restaurant meals to convenience items and alcohol, sparking fierce competition to get the goods to people’s door in record time. Venture capitalists have poured billions of dollars into the emerging industry, and in London Uber would face other well-funded competitors, from homegrown rivals like Deliveroo Plc and Zapp to Turkey’s Getir.

Options open to Uber could include partnering with established grocery chains or working with existing rapid delivery startups. Previously Uber has worked on rapid delivery in partnership with the fast-growing U.S.-based startup Gopuff, offering Uber customers the ability to order items from Gopuff’s micro-fulfillment centers on its app. 

In June, Uber also agreed to buy the remaining stake in online grocer Cornershop to grow that offering in Latin America. And on Uber apps in London, consumers can place orders from Jiffy, a startup that offers 15-minute delivery of grocery and convenience items.  

Earlier this year, Uber hired Tesco Plc’s former online director Eve Henrikson to serve as regional general manager of delivery in Europe, Middle East and Africa, leading the company’s regional delivery business as bookings surged 178% locally in first-quarter of 2021 from the previous year. 

Read more: Uber Taps SoftBank-Backed Gopuff to Expand Grocery Delivery

Interest from industry heavyweight Uber adds to the growing rush into the sector from publicly-listed delivery companies, with U.S. leader DoorDash Inc. and Germany’s Delivery Hero SE both set to make major investments in rapid grocery apps Flink SE and Gorillas Technologies GmbH, respectively. 

Deliveroo has taken a separate approach, collaborating with grocery chain Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc on a micro-fulfillment center in London. 

Globally, venture investors have done 11.3 billion euros ($13.1 billion) worth of deals in 2021 across grocery delivery through Oct. 11, topping 2020’s full-year financing, with Europe accounting for 3.9 billion euros, according to data provider PitchBook.

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