Futurism & Innovation My take on it all

Chinese food Megacities – a glimpse into the Future of Food?

Why is this significant?

The Future of Food is as much determined by the consumer as the technology of manufacture. China is indisputably a global growth powerhouse with twice the growth rate of the US and their influence shouldn’t be underestimated.  Their food imports are massive and will influence the direction of food innovation in the coming decades. Indeed Chinese consumers could be the future Global model of consumers.

A new report on “Food and the Megacity: How urbanisation and technology are changing the way China eats” has some fascinating insights into how food could be consumed in the future.

As a background from the report, China;

  1. Has 1.4 bn people = 20% of global population vs 7% of the world’s arable land!
  2. In 2016 imported $19.6bn of food products vs $1.3 bn in 1999.
  3. Imports 60% of the world’s soybeans.
  4. Has 6 megacities of more than 10 m inhabitants, with 8 forecast by 2030.
  5. Has made cash almost obsolete, due to the high adoption of mobile payment systems.
  6. At $1 trillion has the largest e-commerce market in the world.
  7. Has a $33 bn food delivery market, almost double that of the US.
  8. Has seen meat consumption go from 13 kg/year to 63 kg/year.
  9. Is the 3rd largest beef, 2nd largest poultry and the largest pork producer in the world.

The above combine to result in “three macroeconomic developments—increasing prosperity, increasing urbanisation and increasing digitisation” which will change the future of food.

My top takeways from the report are

  1. “Dark kitchens”, restaurants with no customers, only takeaway, are flourishing.
  2. Shopping centre restaurants with home delivery.
  3. China seems to be the place for mainstream QSRs to test new concepts. eg KFC’s “healthy” K-pro and Pizza Huts robo-waiter staffed PH+.
  4. The worldwide urban trend that 35% of people feel more at home outside the home is taking hold.
  5. Over 300 Bingobox automated stores in 30 cities vs 9 Amazon Go in 3 cities.
  6. Chinese spent more than the GDP of Sweden on eating out!
  7. Cooking at home is for entertaining, not the family.
  8. Ordering from the restaurant menu based on influencers ratings, using any of a number of apps.
  9. Adventurous foods – Channels on Douyin dedicated to concepts like chocolate-fried rice or ice cream noodles.
  10. Chinese eat 348 kg per capita of vegetables compared to 114 kg for Americans. So vertical farms are on the rise.

China appears to have skipped ahead in many areas of food and technology and watching their progress will be fascinating to see what works and what doesn’t!




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