Western restaurants scramble for Chinese breakfast market

Updated: 2014-04-24 17:32


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SHANGHAI -- Western food chains are targeting China's breakfast market, leaving traditional Chinese restaurants and stalls struggling for trade.

Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of the world's largest restaurant company YUM! Brand Inc, released its new breakfast menu in China on Tuesday. The American chain has been offering breakfast meals since 2012. Three-hundred branches will serve breakfast this year. A China Cuisine Association report in 2010 on the country's breakfast market showed it was worth 167.39 billion yuan ($26.8 billion) in 2008 and 187.6 billion yuan in 2009. It was expected to grow over 10 percent annually since then, according to the report.

Known as the most important meal of the day, KFC, Starbucks and other western chains have rolled out breakfast menus to attract Chinese customers, offering cakes, burgers and coffee, among other delights.

Compared with traditional Chinese breakfast like steamed stuffed buns and soybean milk, food served in western restaurants is more expensive,ranging from about 15 to 50 yuan.

But white collar workers who want safe and good quality food are opting for western restaurants. A white collar worker surnamed Wang in Shanghai said western restaurants offered a nicer dining environment, and somewhere where she could hold business meetings.

The Chinese catering sector grew only 9 percent year on year in 2013 under the government's frugality campaign, the lowest level in 21 years, said a China Cuisine Association report.

With the rising cost of raw materials, some Chinese enterprises are running unprofitable operations or have closed.

Chinese fast food and casual dining restaurants, which have developed relatively slowly and lagged behind western chains, are losing breakfast trade, said Jin Peihua, deputy secretary of the Shanghai Restaurants Cuisine Association.

Chinese restaurants should look to compete with healthy, nutritional meals, which are low fat, according to Jin.

Western restaurants scramble for Chinese breakfast market Western restaurants scramble for Chinese breakfast market