Food: What’s available around offices is often not nutritious or healthy enough
About 60 percent of customers are Sweetie Salad regulars, and many buy more than 10 times a year, which amounts to more than 2,000 yuan ($300), Yu said.
The company has also launched an online shopping platform to sell what it calls “healthy food”, such as muesli, dried fruits, herbal tea and oat biscuits.
Chen Na, an office worker in Beijing, said she and many of her friends and colleagues have tried a variety of such services, including those for gym- goers and dieters.
“I want to reduce fat and gain muscle to improve my body shape, and I know healthy eating, especially intake of enough high proteins and low calories, really matters for that purpose,” Chen said.
“In the past, I had no choice but to dine out in eateries around the office, and I’m glad there are new choices for me to stay fit and healthy now, with these healthy food delivery services.”
The food at restaurants around the office usually is not healthy enough, Chen said, because it has too much oil and salt. She added that she needs few carbohydrates but rich protein to maintain a steady basal metabolic rate.
Another reason she orders the takeout is because the food is delivered to her office and so is very convenient to eat.
Chen’s first experience with such eating was a salad brand, at the recommendation of a colleague in July last year who was a regular customer of that brand.
She ordered the salad on and off for lunch for a long time. It usually contained vegetables, fruits, white meat such as chicken breast and fish, and sometimes grains.
Chen said she enjoyed both the taste and the nutrition, but is always open to new options.
Her recent favorite was a five- day- a- week takeout menu from a local kitchen. The service features breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack for a day’s consumption each workday, and it also includes a fitness exercise video.
Having such takeout food also gives her psychological satisfaction because she proactively manages her eating habits and lifestyle. Additionally, it motivates her to exercise more passionately, partly because the service can be expensive, Chen said.
She said most of those using the service around her are females, perhaps because they are more sensitive to body image and health and are more particular about food quality.
Many men she knows who go to the gym regularly buy chicken salad from convenience stores, she added.
While most of the caloriecontrol meals are fusion or Western-style, 700Kcal, established last year, provides a variety of calorie-controlled cuisines, including Thai and Caribbean food.
Its outlets in Beijing sell such meals, and it plans to open branches in other cities, including Zhengzhou, Henan province; Zhuhai, Guangdong province; and Chongqing.
Tino, chief operation officer with 700Kcal, said the company not only has a wide following among individual buyers, but also sells products at some eateries, because it has a sterile central kitchen to produce standardized products.
Liu Yajie, a cardiovascular disease specialist in Guangzhou, said he welcomes the popularity of such delivery services, because healthy eating is important to prevent many chronic diseases.
However, he warned that since these services often provide such dishes as salad and water-boiled meat, customers should make sure that the services are providing clean, safe food with cold- chain logistics. Otherwise, he said, pathogens such as E. coli, which can cause diarrhea, can easily reproduce.
Contact the writer at liuzhihua@chinadaily. com.cn