Chinese consumers getting healthier as appetite for Western QSR drops

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags: Pizza hut

Chinese consumers appear to be falling out of love with Western fast food after a McKinsey & Company survey revealed a significant drop in customers between 2012 and 2015.

Last year, only 51% of respondents said they ate at restaurants such as McDonald’s and KFC, the consultancy reported. 

That compares to 67% who said they consumed fast food in 2012. These customers have since shifted to healthier, more environmentally-friendly brands, the report said. 

China also saw a 21% drop in carbonated soft drinks consumption, a 15% fall in chewing gum consumption and 7% reduction in ice cream consumption.

The trend toward healthier food—half of respondents claimed to be focused on more nutritious diets—is entwined with food safety concerns, which remain a source of worry throughout the Chinese population.

Almost 40% of consumers believed that seeking food billed as “organic​” and “green​” was among the top ways to identify the safety of products, despite the fact no credible organic certification is in place in China. 

Some companies developing credible food certification standards have shown promise​,” the report said. 

For example, in 2009, Olé became one of the first supermarkets to focus on selling organic and imported foods​.” 

The fortunes of Chinese fast-food chains seem to have taken a dive in recent years, especially after KFC and Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands, were rocked in 2014 due to in a tainted meat scandal, and last year, when the Chinese government began implementing a sweeping food safety policy. Hitherto, consumers had seen Western brands as cleaner, safer alternatives to local options. 

Featuring responses by 10,000 Chinese consumers across 44 cities, the survey took place between September and November 2015.

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