Chinese spend $800 billion on food in 2017

People eating dinner at a restaurant in Beijing.
People eating dinner at a restaurant in Beijing.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
(CHINA DAILY) - It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Chinese cuisines, with their diversified flavors and delicate appearances, are enjoyed worldwide, and the Chinese never hesitate in searching for new food to taste.
 
According to a report recently released by the China Cuisine Association (CCA), in 2017, the Chinese people spent an estimated 3.9 trillion yuan (S$800 billion) on food, with a year-on-year growth of 10.7 per cent.
 
"The turnover of the Chinese catering industry is expected to exceed five trillion yuan by the end of 2020, judging by the present speed and scale in development," said Jiang Junxian, president of the CCA.
 

Most young people prefer to dine out

 
According to the report, most of the younger generation born in the 1990s and 2000s prefer to dine out a lot, and they have contributed about 50 per cent of the 3.7 trillion yuan.
 
Many interviewees cited by the China Central Television 2 (CCTV2) said they spent about 50 to 60 per cent of their salary on food. Most of them never cook at home, and the average cost for each meal is around 30 yuan (S$6).
 
According to the 2017 report, the cleanliness and appearance of the restaurant are what customers are most concerned with, followed by the taste of the dishes and food safety. The price comes at the fourth place.
 
Jiang said the new trends have posed new challenges for the catering industry, as Chinese customers have shown no tolerance towards safety problems. Many restaurants have installed monitoring cameras in their kitchens, so that customers can keep an eye on how their food is prepared.
 
Kitchens with big interior and exterior windows were also adopted by many restaurants.
 

Chinese food dominates the market

Chinese people's food consumption has been more diverse in 2017, but Chinese food still dominates the market.
 
As shown in the report, the Chinese food accounts for 57 per cent of the market share and the most popular dish is hotpot.
 
Salty and fresh taste have taken over from spicy to become the most popular flavor among people. Jiang Junxian said it signifies that Chinese people have returned to choosing their food rationally.
 
Accordingly, Jiangsu and Zhejiang cuisines, together with Hunan cuisine, have become the favorites of the Chinese people. Cantonese food is also much loved by Chinese customers, and it was on the top 5 lists of several consumer guiding application including Baidu Maps and China's Groupon-like Meituan.com.
 
 The Chinese demand for imported cuisines has also been on the rise. Those born after the 1990s prefer fast casual restaurants, which account for about 16 per cent in China's catering market. Desserts are their favorite choice while dining out, compared with traditional Chinese cuisines.
 
 

Food delivery market continues to boom

 
In 2017, the food delivery market continued to boom in China, with its value estimated to be over 200 billion yuan, up from 166.2 billion yuan in 2016.
 
In several restaurants in Beijing, the takeaway food accounted for 20 to 40 per cent of their general turnover.
 
Meanwhile, customers usually order takeaway food at times not associated with dining, such as in the afternoon or midnight. At least 60 per cent of the customers have the habits of eating late night snacks.
 
Insiders predicted that in 2018, the customers' demands for the catering industry will continue to increase. Quality and service would become the focuses, meanwhile, the culture behind the regional cuisine will be gradually explored and developed, an idea which is expected to become a new trend in the future.