What the foodservice industry can learn from the new normal in China

What the foodservice industry can learn from the new normal in China


China was one of the first countries to open up again during the pandemic. In the second half of 2020, consumers’ lives in China gradually returned to normal. Students went back to class, employees entered the office again and the foodservice industry could welcome its first guests. What are the main takeaways for the rest of the world? Hint: hygiene and home delivery are here to stay.


Hygiene matters

We’ve done two surveys amongst Chinese consumers, one in April 2020 and one in January 2021. Interestingly, although the threat of Covid-19 has decreased and the possibilities to eat out, consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of hygiene. 88% of Chinese consumers endorse the importance of hygiene in January 2021 versus 84% in April 2020. 

The wish to maintain the current hygiene measures is strong as well. 89% of the people in China are in favour of keeping up the use of mouth masks, disinfectant and gloves, especially in the foodservice and retail. A trend which we’ll very likely see in the rest of the world as well.

One of the most popular hygiene measures is the use of digital payments. Many people have developed an aversion to 'dirty' cash money and the physical touch that is often involved in a cash payment. Large Chinese fastservice chains McDonald’s and Yum China have accelerated their ‘contactless’ services and rolled out pick-up food options in which there is no contact with staff. Payments by card or phone are quickly becoming the norm, both in China and the rest of the world.


What the foodservice industry can learn from the new normal in China


Home delivery prevails

During the lockdowns, the online ordering of food exploded. Shops and restaurants all adopted home delivery to continue their services towards consumers. Having your groceries, dinner or even breakfast delivered to your doorstep is the ultimate convenience to ease a busy life. 

Entrepreneurs hoping for a complete return to normal in this regard await disappointment. Consumers enjoy the options for online ordering, take-away, and home delivery and they intend to keep on using these services in the future. 52% of Chinese consumers state that they will continue to mainly order food online after the pandemic. Globally, 35 to 75% of consumers agree that shops and restaurants should be able to deliver at home.


What the foodservice industry can learn from the new normal in China


(Not so) new normal

The biggest takeaway for food outlets is that the new normal might not be all that different from the current situation. In the near future, hygiene measures are still very much appreciated by consumers. And although people are happy to shop and eat out like before the pandemic, they plan on using home delivery options as well. So don’t close that webshop down just yet.


Keeping up with the wishes and desires of consumers is a must if you work in foodservice. Stay up to date and explore the 3 key trends that are shaping the post-Covid bakery, patisserie and chocolate world.