Health­ier op­tions

ChinAfrica - - China Report -

While doom and gloom marked Septem­ber 5 for Tingyi, for Zhang Jun it was just an­other work­ing day. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the 31-year-old de­liv­ery rider rushed through the streets of Beijing on his mo­tor­bike. The app on his phone would tell him which restau­rant to pick up food or­ders and at which ad­dress to drop off. He had a 40 minute dead­line. Be­ing a de­liv­ery rider is not for the faint-hearted. “You have to be very fast. Time is money,” said Zhang, who could de­liver 20 meals a day. “Some peo­ple can do more within the same time, and of course, they can make more money.” For ev­ery or­der com­pleted, the de­liv­ery rider earns be­tween 2 to 6 yuan ($0.3-0.9), which, to­gether with a ba­sic salary, could to­tal more than 5,000 yuan ($742) a month, a de­cent in­come in Beijing for peo­ple without a de­gree or pro­fes­sional skills. This job hardly ex­isted five years ago, but today, pla­toons of de­liv­ery rid­ers whizzing along the streets have be­come char­ac­ter­is­tic of Chi­nese ci­ties.

What con­nected the rid­ers with restau­rants are the meal-or­der­ing plat­forms ac­cessed by 150 mil­lion Chi­nese con­sumers through their smart phones.

One of the four ma­jor plat­forms, Ele.me, for ex­am­ple, was founded in 2009. In less than seven years, the com­pany has ex­panded its busi­ness to over 1,000 Chi­nese ci­ties and had over 500,000 restau­rants reg­is­tered. It is now lead­ing the mar­ket with a daily trad­ing vol­ume of 200 mil­lion yuan ($30 mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by the com­pany in Au­gust.

The new trend also ben­e­fited the restau­rants. South Mem­ory, a pop­u­lar Chi­nese restau­rant chain in­di­cated it could re­ceive 4,000 online or­ders per day.

In 2015, the online meal-or­der­ing mar­ket in China was worth about 44 bil­lion yuan ($6.2 bil­lion), al­most the same size as the noo­dle mar­ket at its peak. It is es­ti­mated to con­tinue grow­ing to 150 bil­lion yuan ($22 bil­lion) in 2018, ac­cord­ing to CNNIC.

Online meal-or­der­ing is just an­other e-com­merce mir­a­cle, but Wu Xiaobo, a fi­nan­cial com­men­ta­tor, be­lieved that it was not achieved by the power of the In­ter­net alone. In the past years, the food and bev­er­age mar­ket was also re­shaped by peo­ple’s in­creas­ing aware­ness about health­ier eat­ing, he said.

In a re­cent sur­vey by the re­search com­pany Nielsen, three-quar­ters of the in­ter­vie­wees said they were will­ing to pay a higher price for healthy food without ar­ti­fi­cial fla­vor­ing and non-ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied food.

Against such a back­ground, in­stant noo­dles were not the only food stuff los­ing fa­vor. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by sur­vey firm CTR Mar­ket Re­search, the sales of beer, sweet bev­er­ages and pack­aged food such as ice cream and candy also slumped in 2015. Mean­while, more nu­tri­tious foods like yo­gurt and cer­tain energy bev­er­ages were in­creas­ing in mar­ket share as peo­ple be­came con­scious of a health­ier life­style. This taste change is “ir­re­versible” as the Chi­nese econ­omy keeps grow­ing and the mid­dle-class pop­u­la­tion in­creases, said Wu.

“Peo­ple didn’t pay much at­ten­tion to health­ier eat­ing in the past, be­cause it took much more time and money. But now we have a va­ri­ety of online ser­vices to make it easy and af­ford­able,” said Qi. “So why not?” Com­ments to zhengyang@ chi­nafrica.cn

De­liv­ery rid­ers have be­come char­ac­ter­is­tic of Chi­nese ci­ties

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