There are only two fates for food: to be eaten or to be thrown away.
In the Douban “I love instant food” group, there was a question entitled “do you think it’s disgraceful to buy temporary food?” The author said that he and his friends share cost-effective temporary food, but friends said that things that are about to expire are not good for the health, so even if they buy temporary food, they will not share it again, afraid that others will feel poor.
More than 200 people share their happiness in buying the food on the spot. In this interim food group, such questions are few and more people share their experience. It is more like a “temporary food grass planting group”.
Different from the resonance of its peers, many foods will be taken off the shelves when their shelf life is still one-third or even longer. China’s snack market has a huge scale, and the loss of food can reach 100 billion yuan every year due to the circulation efficiency.
A few years ago, convenience stores launched a microblog search for instant food, sparking a dispute over food waste.
And these foods, which are about to expire and be thrown away, are supporting a 10 billion market.
Chinese people advocate frugality, which accounts for half of the development of the makeshift food market.
It’s only 22.36 yuan for Danish crowns, and it’s only 8 yuan for a chocolate box. Near the shelf life, these snacks are less than half of the usual price can be bought.
“Eat delicious food without discount at a discount price”. The “I love temporary food” group of Douban was just established in September 2020. It has attracted more than 20000 temporary food lovers. Saving money and being affordable has become the reason why they choose temporary food.
Bao Bian searched for “impending food” on the e-commerce platform and found that there were a large number of related stores. Among the top stores, the first selling product is a kind of egg yolk crisp produced before and after July 31, with a shelf life of 120 days and a selling price of 1.35-1.99 yuan, with a monthly sales volume of more than 10000 yuan.
Li Mei, a post-90s student, has recently been planted with temporary food. She tells Bao Bian that she loves to eat them. Seeing such cheap snacks, she searches the e-commerce platform out of curiosity. She points in and finds that it is cheap, so she buys several copies.
Wang bought a variety of snacks for four years, but she found that she had no problem buying a variety of leopards.
The so-called impending food refers to the food whose shelf life is approaching its expiration, rather than about to expire soon.
It is generally believed in the industry that around 2012 is the time for China’s impending food market to officially start. At the beginning of that year, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce issued a clear request that “food operators should give consumers eye-catching tips for foods that are about to expire”. Subsequently, Beijing Municipal Bureau of industry and Commerce announced the six level standard of “critical food shelf life”.
For example, for candies and biscuits with a shelf life of 18 months, about 40 days before the shelf life is the critical period; for instant noodles and milk with shelf life less than 12 months, the critical period is 20 days before the shelf life.
However, large supermarkets and markets have stricter requirements for the “shelf life critical” period. A food supplier told baobian that if there is no discount promotion, most supermarkets and convenience stores will return the food to the supplier when the shelf life of the food reaches about 40%, and these foods will become temporary food.
For example, a food with a shelf life of 100 days may be counted as a temporary food when it is 60 days away from its expiration date. When supermarkets and convenience stores return goods, most suppliers need to return the same amount of money.
Before the market expansion of the imminent food market, the way for the supplier to recover this part of the loss is to send the returned goods to the ordinary shops with lower critical requirements for the shelf life. However, this is only limited to the food that still has a certain period of time, and the rest can only be destroyed after the expiration.
Food needs to go through a series of circulation links from brand merchants, distributors, retailers to consumers. Although we all hope that the products will be sold before the shelf life, it is difficult to test the market judgment, marketing and management ability of each link in reality.
In 2019, the market scale of China’s leisure food industry has reached 1055.6 billion yuan. According to the data of AI media consulting, it is estimated that the market size will exceed 110 billion yuan in 2020. According to 2020 China’s imported food industry report, in 2019, China’s import food amount has reached 90.81 billion US dollars.
According to a rough estimate, if the 5% precipitated inventory is calculated, the impending food market will also exceed 80 billion yuan.
Whose money does make?
For those who focus on the makeshift food market, what suppliers lose is what they earn.
At present, the supply of temporary food mainly includes suppliers of large-scale supermarket convenience stores, large-scale temporary food hoarders, overstocked inventory of imported food, and so on. On 58 Tongcheng, Baidu Post Bar and other websites, there are not a few information about the collection and sale of temporary food.
Some suppliers also started to run their own temporary food stores.
A supplier in Chongqing told Bao Bian that he ran a temporary food online store in April 2019, more to make up for the loss caused by the return of Shangchao convenience store.
Because of the worry about overstocking of goods and the former customers only take the temporary goods in order to reduce the cost, more dealers are not willing to sell the temporary goods to their normal customers at a low price, but prefer to give them to the second-hand hoarders.
It is the second-hand suppliers and shopkeepers who specialize in hoarding temporary food.
Around 2014, a friend entrusted Wang Yi with a batch of expiring Oreos at a low price, which was his first contact with the imminent food industry.
The goods sold very quickly, and Wang Yi immediately decided to become the supplier of the temporary food. In those two years, when the imminent food market rose, it was in a high profit stage, and the profit could generally be doubled several times. For example, he cited a batch of on-the-spot chocolates with an original value of 500000 yuan on the market at that time, which could be sold for 30000 or 40000 yuan. Finally, they could be sold for about 150000 yuan.
For middlemen like Wang Yi, what they earn is the money that suppliers lose. To some extent, the more suppliers lose, the more they earn.
Such a high profit industry is bound to expand and expand. In the past two years, with the continuous development of the food market, more and more people have begun to pour in, and the price of taking goods is also increasing. Wang Yi said that the batch of chocolate may need 200000 yuan to win by now, and the corresponding profits are also decreasing.
The retail side is also profitable. Some temporary food shopkeepers have calculated that the gross profit margin is about 70%, and 40% if the loss, site, labor, transportation and warehouse are removed.
Liu Xi, the owner of a temporary food store in Chengdu, told Bao Bian that the temporary food was cheap and the market demand was great. The net profit of the exclusive store could reach 1000-3000 yuan a day, which was much higher than that of ordinary snack shops in the same area. At the same time, the pricing of temporary food is relatively free. Although there is the principle of “the closer to the shelf life, the lower the price”, there is still a lot of pricing space for the shopkeepers. The prices that sell well are higher, and those that are not easy to sell will be drained at a low price.
In the consumer group, most of the offline stores are faced with the surrounding residents and students. The southern market is more active, and Shanghai is the birthplace of the impending food market.
And middlemen like Wang Yi have gone through four rounds of customer changes.
The first generation of customers are ordinary snack shops, which generally adopt extensive business model. Compared with supermarkets and convenience stores, they have relatively loose requirements on the shelf life of products.
With the popularity of impending food, the second generation of customers is directly facing the C terminal. Around 2016, Wang Yi opened more than a dozen temporary food direct stores. However, with more and more people coming into the temporary industry, which pushed up the cost price and depressed the profits, these direct food stores gradually closed down.
To say the most popular concept in 2020, it is absolutely impossible to escape community group buying and live broadcasting.
Community group buying first became the third generation of customers of the impending food. In recent years, the rise of community group buying app home page often can see discount promotion, in order to attract through promotional activities, community group buying app will also specially choose temporary food.
The fourth generation of customers is live delivery. Many brands of on-the-spot food are now being shipped through live delivery.
At present, the industry also has special app to do temporary food, such as good food period, dump sale, etc. Good food period was established in April 2016, adopting the mode of self support and business settlement. The “social + e-commerce” mode was established in 2013, mainly for self-employed goods.
is on the spot. It has a selling point and also a pain point
But it’s not easy to make money on food.
During the outbreak, Liu Xi’s temporary food store closed down. Although the domestic epidemic situation has been basically controlled, Liu Xi does not intend to reopen the store until it is completely over.
Due date is not only the reason why this industry can be low price and high profit, but also its pain point.
The shelf life of many foods in Liu Xi’s shop varies from one year to two months. According to the regulations, once the food exceeds the shelf life, it can not be sold to consumers. This also leads to the weak anti risk ability of the food industry, which is difficult to deal with the risk of epidemic situation. At the same time, if the purchase strategy is wrong, the food is unsalable, and the loss can only be borne by the merchants themselves.
Under the pressure of “time limit”, consumers have always doubted whether there is any modification of the production date in the imminent food. Some temporary food suppliers have denied this, on the ground that the price of many temporary food is only one or two yuan, and the cost of changing the date is higher than this. However, some people think that with the expansion of the industry, there may be a mixture of good and bad people.
Secondly, the category is limited and the supply of goods is unstable. Different from the normal supplier can help the supply of goods, the supply of temporary food is unstable due to the unstable delivery channel, which can not guarantee the supply of hot-selling products at any time.
Since it is the supplier’s loss that the temporary food makes, the supplier will naturally stop the loss. Or take chocolate as an example. If the supplier takes 500000 goods in October, sells 300000 yuan, and then loses 200000 yuan, will the supplier still buy 500000 more when it restocks?
At the same time, each regional supplier has its own protection policy. In order to protect regional distributors, many brands do not allow cross regional sales. A box of milk from Beijing dealers is not allowed to be sold to Jiangsu. This has also led to the limited supply of temporary food to a certain extent.
Many people choose to open off-line discount stores for imported food. In addition to the high price of imported food and the large profit margin, there is also the fact that there is no such protection policy for imported food, so the supply of goods can be wider.
And some temporary food hoarders will even register some brands abroad to produce snacks, pretending to be imported food to sell.
In Wang Yi’s opinion, compared with a few years ago, the temporary food market has become quite saturated, and many hoarders have overstocked their goods. In recent two years, many cities have opened discount stores for imported food. In fact, the dealers who store up goods have started to open shops to clear the goods. However, most of these discount stores sell small brands from Southeast Asia and are not competitive.
In addition to “saturation”, the problem of high risk and instability in the imminent food market has been difficult to solve.
However, as long as “workers” exist, there will be no shortage of customers in the temporary food market. After all, for food, the best outcome is to be eaten.
(all pseudonyms are pseudonyms at the request of the interviewees)
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