social distancing,HCM City,food supply

At 5.30 pm recently, shipper Pham Quang Toan was seen leaving a market with two large bags of rau muong (a kind of vegetable in Vietnam) to deliver to a client in Binh Thanh district.

Toan became a shipper a week ago and the afternoon is the busiest time of the day for him.

The demand for shopping services has increased rapidly in HCM City as locals are ordering more food via online services.

Toan, who has never gone shopping without his wife in the past, has unexpectedly become knowledgeable about all kinds of food.

“Chicken legs are priced at VND50,000 per kilogram, pork bacon VND200,000 per kilogram, and tomato VND40,000. The food supply is plentiful; only vegetables are in shortage,” Toan said.

Because of the special nature of the job, most taxi motorbike drivers working as shippers are men. The image of men carrying bags of meat, essential goods and vegetables has become common on HCMC streets.

Van Hai, 26, said he travels regularly between supermarkets and convenience stores between 11 am and 9 pm, and has about 10 orders a day. The goods items people order these days are basic – rice, meat, canned food and drinks.

“Many clients order food via shopping apps at supermarkets. But these seem to not be enough. They call me and ask me to buy more food for them,” he said.


Deliverymen like Toan and Hai are an important workforce during the pandemic. They connect people and transport a large amount of food in the city, helping bring meals to families.

A survey of the Department of Industry and Trade found that because of social distancing, the number of people going out to buy essential goods has declined by 50-60 percent, while the number of online orders has increased rapidly.

During social distancing, the department has encouraged product distributors to boost online transactions.

A representative of a large supply distributor said since social distancing began, the number of orders has increased by 15 times. Another distributor said there were 15,000 orders a day.

Shippers are well aware of the risks the jobs can bring. Toan said he always wears protective gloves and glasses, as well as protective masks, and uses hand sanitizers.

“I go to convenience stores and don’t talk to people. I show the clients’ orders on my smartphones, and pick up things and leave immediately,” said Hoang Nghia, a shipper from Long An. 

Quang Dinh

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