In terms of the overall consumer foodservice industry, the COVID-19 pandemic had the most severe impact on self-service cafeterias given the prolonged length of the lockdown and direct person to person virus spread. Even though self-service cafeterias resumed trading from March, ongoing concerns over social distancing and the hands-on element of this channel, resulted in a dramatic drop in consumer traffic.
As a leading player in self-service cafeterias, Mr Rice which owns 160 outlets in Wuhan, the source of the outbreak, was particularly badly impacted by the pandemic. Since the start of the outbreak in China, most Mr Rice outlets closed their dining spaces, while their kitchens remained open to provide free group meals for hospital staff and builders who constructed temporary hospitals in Wuhan.
Due to a heavily impacted supply chain and dramatic fall in travel flow, some self-service cafeterias located in lodging transformed their business models from self-service to full-service with this move expected to be permanent even after the pandemic fully recedes. As the travel industry is likely to take some considerable time before it recovers, as the pandemic continues to rage around the world, self-service cafeterias in lodging is innovating their specialities and operating model to ensure the safety of their food and social distancing measures.
Affected by the global pandemic, consumers will be more willing to pay for good quality and high-safety food in appealing surroundings, specifically when they dine in self-service cafeterias. In the past, China’s self-service cafeterias focused more on large numbers of products and large dining spaces.
Independent self-service cafeterias were badly affected by the pandemic with their smaller scale making them less able to cope with the severe financial difficulties COVID-19 created on their businesses. Many are also located in shopping centres, which were required to close during lockdown.
Inspired by the pursuit of healthy and sustainable lifestyles, leading players in self-service cafeterias will respond and ultimately make a positive difference to this industry. Leading player IKEA has set out more delicious and affordable plant-based options, with examples including plant ball without compromising on taste and texture in China, actively responding to climate footprint reduction.
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This report originates from Passport, our Self-Service Cafeterias research and analysis database.
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