Paul French

Lunch and dinner might already be taken over by foreign fast-food chains in China, but the battle for the breakfast has just started, explains retail analyst Paul French in the Economist.

The Economist:

Paul French of Mintel, a research firm, reckons that the Chinese foreign fast-food market, valued at RMB 87.8 ($13.9) billion, is “underpenetrated” at breakfast time. Only 21% of Chinese eat fast food in the morning, compared to over 75% at lunch time. Why is this? “People want congee [a sort of porridge with goodies in it] for breakfast, not a sausage sandwich,” says Mr French.

Domestic restaurants see a gap in the market, and are rising early to fill it. They are copying the foreigners’ chief selling points—fashionable decor and clean tables—but keeping the menu strictly Chinese. Local fast-food chains such as Manfadu and 82 degrees are building new stores with plastic menus and western-style layouts. They serve congee with pickled vegetables and youtiao (deep-fried dough). Hungry locals flock in. Mr French reckons that 82 degrees is opening two stores a week to meet growing demand. He also reckons Manfadu now holds 10% of the Shanghai breakfast market, up from 2% in 2008.

More in the Economist

Paul French is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

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