The Annual Report on Catering Industry Development of China 2019 (ARCIDC) released in June found that China is now the second largest food and beverage economy in the world by revenue, with the U.S. at number one.
Before last year, food and beverage revenue in China had never topped 4 trillion yuan (US$582 billion), but 2018 food and beverage revenue was over 4.27 trillion yuan, or over US$620 billion. Additionally, food and beverages accounted for just under 11 percent of total 2018 retail sales in China and contributed to about 11 percent of Chinese consumer market growth.
Snacks and fast food were the top two categories for food and beverage sales, with hot pot meals the most popular item. Most buyers were under 40 years old in large cities, with women making more purchases than men.
According to the ARCIDC, online sales of foods and beverages increased by US$44 billion from 2011 to 2017, and in 2018, Chinese food delivery service Meituan-Dianping reported an online transaction volume of over US$41 billion.
The report forecasts 2019 food and beverage revenue to grow 6.5 percent to US$670 billion. Given the impact of the trade war—Chinese retail and industry grew 1.6 percent in 2018—this growth forecast is arguably bullish.