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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Pre-made Meals Gaining Popularity on Chinese Family Dinner Tables

LifestyleFoodPre-made Meals Gaining Popularity on Chinese Family Dinner Tables

Chen Jia, a public servant living in the bustling city of Hangzhou, found herself in a predicament on Chinese New Year’s Eve. With the daunting task of preparing a festive meal for her family, Chen was hesitant to rely on the usual takeout options from nearby restaurants. However, she was not a skilled cook and the thought of cooking an elaborate meal seemed daunting.

Fortunately, Chen stumbled upon a solution that would ease her worries: ready-made food. With the help of online shopping, Chen was able to purchase pre-made dishes that were ready to cook, ready to heat, and ready to eat – also known as “3R food.”

Chen was delighted with the results of her semi-self-cooked feast and eagerly shared photos of the spread on social media. The meal included complex dishes such as sweet fermented rice stewed fish and mushroom casserole that were once thought to be unattainable for novice chefs like Chen.

In recent years, the market for 3R food in China has grown significantly. According to a report by consulting agency iiMedia Research, the market value of 3R food reached 345.9 billion yuan ($51.09 billion) in 2021 and is expected to exceed 515 billion yuan by 2023.

With the convenience and accessibility of ready-made food, it is no wonder that it has become a popular choice among both catering businesses and individual consumers in China. The ease and simplicity of 3R food has not only made cooking less intimidating for those with little experience, but it has also saved time and effort for busy individuals and families alike.

As Chen Jia demonstrated, ready-made food has become a lifesaver for those looking to prepare a hearty meal without the hassle of traditional cooking methods. With the market for 3R food continuing to expand in China, it is safe to say that this trend is here to stay.

In bustling metropolises such as Beijing and Shanghai, ready-made dishes have become a staple for those who seek culinary delights but lack the luxury of leisure time. This is particularly evident during traditional festivals, where a family feast at home still outweighs dining out at a restaurant, as shown in a survey conducted by Hema Fresh, Alibaba’s fresh-food chain, prior to the Spring Festival. Over half of the surveyed customers said they would purchase ready-made dishes for their family reunion dinner.

The convenience of ready-made dishes has made it a popular choice for consumers in China, especially those who have little time to spare. In the e-commerce shops of Douyin, a short video platform, sales of pre-made food during the recent holiday shopping spree have increased by an astounding 248 percent from a year ago.

Tian Xin, the general manager of Hema 3R Commodity Center, has noted that ready-made dishes with hard-to-handle materials such as big-chunk seafood and meat are particularly popular among customers. This is not surprising, as the preparation and cooking of these ingredients can be time-consuming and require a certain level of skill.

Ready-made dishes have become a thriving industry in China, with its market value expected to exceed 515 billion yuan by 2023. This trend has been fueled by the growing demand for convenience and efficiency, as well as the desire for high-quality food that can be enjoyed at home.

Despite the convenience of ready-made dishes, some may argue that it lacks the personal touch of home-cooked meals. However, the increasing variety and quality of pre-made dishes have made it a viable option for those who wish to enjoy a delicious meal without the hassle of cooking.

As the demand for ready-made food continues to grow, it is expected that the market will expand to include more diverse and specialized offerings. For busy individuals and families in China, ready-made dishes are no longer just a convenience, but a way of life.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of consumers seeking ready-made dishes with unique local features or innovative fusions. At Hema Fresh, for example, a chicken soup made with Yunnan-raised chicken and locally grown mushrooms, as well as a dish that combines roe-rich crabs with eight-treasure rice pudding, have seen a significant increase in sales in January compared to the previous month.

The ready-made food industry in China is booming, with over 63,000 companies involved in its production and related services, according to Qichacha, a leading platform offering company information inquiry services. However, industry insiders believe that there is still much potential to be tapped.

Bai Jianbin, the owner of a catering business in Hangzhou, believes that the growth of 3R food in China is driven by the growing acceptance of new cooking styles. With an improved fresh food supply chain and more healthy, characteristic recipes to cater to a wider range of tastes, ready-made food is expected to become increasingly prevalent on Chinese dinner tables, Bai said.

This trend towards convenience is not only driven by the need for time-saving solutions, but also by the desire for high-quality and unique flavors. As consumers become more health-conscious and discerning, they seek out dishes that not only taste good but also offer nutritional benefits.

With the advancement of technology, the quality of ready-made food has improved significantly, providing consumers with a wide range of choices. Online shopping platforms, such as Hema Fresh and Douyin, have made it easier for consumers to access ready-made dishes with a few clicks on their smartphones.

As the demand for ready-made food continues to grow, the industry is expected to become more diverse and specialized, catering to different dietary needs and preferences. This presents a tremendous opportunity for companies to create innovative products that cater to the evolving tastes of consumers.

In conclusion, ready-made food has become a popular choice for busy consumers in China who seek high-quality, convenient, and unique flavors. With the industry expected to continue to grow and evolve, there is much potential for companies to tap into this lucrative market and provide consumers with a wide range of options that cater to their tastes and dietary needs.

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