2022-08-11 18:25


Do You Know Most Food You Had in Restaurants Are Precooked?

Do You Know Most Food You Had in Restaurants Are Precooked?

Pre-prepared dishes raked in a whopping 550 billion yuan in China last year, and the industrys rapid growth rate could see it surpass 1 trillion yuan in just a few years

The trend reflects a change in Chinese peoples lifestyles during the pandemic, but the China Consumers Association says more regulations are needed.

The growing popularity of pre-cooked food in China C also known as the ready-meals industry C has made it a capital darling, with investors looking to cash in on the trend prompted by changes in peoples lifestyles amid the pandemic.

In the worlds second-largest economy, the market for pre-prepared dishes has been mainly driven by caterers. But a shift from restaurants to family dining tables in the past two years, with so many people staying home in the era of stringent zero-Covid mobility restrictions and lockdowns, has rapidly brought pre-made food to the mass consumer market.

Deloitte Asia-Pacifics consumer goods and retail industry head, Zhang Tianbing, now says Chinas pre-prepared food market looks to have a promising future, with the corporate side of the business currently more mature, while the general consumer market is still in the process of penetration.

Pre-prepared dishes meet the preferences of a new generation of consumers for healthier and more distinctive meals and the epidemic has accelerated the spread of pre-cooked food, Zhang said.

Deloitte China, in cooperation with Mumian Capital and Inward Fund C two investment houses focusing on the countrys new economy sector C said in a report on Monday that the pre-made food market is shaping up to be even more lucrative this year than during the first two years of the pandemic.

According to the report, Chinas pre-prepared dishes market generated about 550 billion yuan (US$81.34 billion) in 2021, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 13 per cent over the next 5 years.

As of June, there were more than 66,000 domestic pre-cook-related enterprises, of which more than 1,020 were newly registered this year, with a growth rate of 42.7 per cent from January to June for new enterprise registrations, according to data from Tianyancha, a commercial database of public company records in China.

Hong Kong-listed Carrianna Group Holdings, which has operated a Chiu Chow cuisine restaurant under the same name in Wan Chai for more than 40 years, is eyeing the rapidly growing pre-cooked market on the mainland.

Carrianna chairman Warren Ma Kai-yum said his company had invested HK$50 million (US$6.37 million) to set up a production facility in Shenzhen to produce pre-cook food to be sold online and in supermarkets. It will introduce a pre-cooked chicken stew in the Chiu Chow style in September.

Young people no longer like to spend a long time cooking at home. Besides delivery services or takeaway, pre-cooked food would be another option for them. Likewise, the elderly who live alone would also like to have pre-cooked food to have a quick meal, Ma said.

The pre-cooking industry has developed well in the Western and Japanese markets, while China is still in the early stage of development. If China matches the level of the US and Europe, the Chinese pre-cooked food market may well grow several times in a few years. The growth potential will be huge.

Ma said he prefers to invest in facilities in Shenzhen to better tap into the Greater Bay Area.

The Greater Bay Area has a population of more than 80 million, while it has a lot of middle-class residents. They can afford to buy good-quality products at a premium. Healthy and delicious pre-cooked food will have strong demand in the bay area, he said.

In Zhuhai, a bay-area city in Guangdong province, the local government is also preparing to build a prefabricated vegetable industrial park spanning about 1,250 acres.

The industrial park, with a total investment of about 7.4 billion yuan, will cover all aspects of the pre-made-food industrial chain, from raw materials and production to processing and sales.

As a new capital darling, the pre-cooking industry is attracting cross-sector investment from companies outside the food industry.

In mid-July, the founder of a financial technology company called Qudian, Luo Min, ranked atop the e-commerce sales board by selling pre-made dishes on TikTok China, known as Douyin, using his personal account. It generated 252 million yuan worth of sales in a single session.

Source: South China Morning Post

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