We all know that the Chinese people love their food, hence news of their huge spending on eating out and food purchases should come as no surprise.
But staggering figures from a latest report by Beijing-based company Dianping and Meituan, which offers food-ordering and delivery services, reflect the sheer size of its domestic restaurant market.
The report estimates that people in China spent RMB 3.5 trillion (US$507 billion) dining out in 2016.
That’s more than half a trillion dollars.
And yes, this massive amount is far greater than the Gross Domestic Product of many countries, including Singapore.
According to the most recent figures from the World Bank, Singapore’s GDP in 2015 was about US$293 billion.
Hotpot is the most popular
According to the report, the Chinese people’s favorite food is steaming broth with meat and vegetables.
Among many types of cuisines and restaurants surveyed, hotpot was the most popular, garnering 22% of market share.
Taking the second spot is the buffet (12%), followed by the spicy and tongue-numbing cuisine of Sichuan (7.7%), and Fastfood and snacks (7.6%).
The development of China’s restuarant industry closely related to the growth of food-ordering and delivery services. The report found that 3 out of 10 Chinese people are users of such services, and nearly half in this group make food delivery orders more than 3 times per week.
Hotpot overseas expansion
Sichuan Haidilao, one of China’s most established hotpot chains, has an empire of 185 outlets both at home and abroad.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, the company’s chairman Zhang Yong said that there are plans to open 80 outlets this year as it expands abroad, with as many as 10 of the new restaurants located outside China.
The Beijing-based spicy soup chain whose strategy of offering customers “delightful dining experiences” – free massages and manicures to awaiting customers, was made a Harvard Business School case study in 2011.
It had entered Los Angeles in 2013, and is keen to further test the appeal of its signature hotpots in the U.S. and U.K.
The company is expected to see revenue of RMB 10 billion (US$1.5 billion) this year, a 30% jump from 2016.
Top photo from Getty Images