China Food

McDonald’s and Yuanqi forest are betting one after another that the 100 billion light food that once fell into the air outlet will be on fire again?


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从纤体塑身,到彰显生活态度,轻食的未来由谁决定?
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Text: archur

Source: foodaily daily food (ID: foodaily)

Qingming has passed, and spring is strong. The domestic light food market is ushering in another spring.
From the financing of several cutting-edge light food enterprises in 2020, to the investment of Yuanqi forest in light food brands at the end of the year, and then to McDonald’s promotion of shabat light food in February this year, the light food industry has stepped out of the haze and regained its vitality with the promotion of people’s pursuit of health and convenient diet at home.
Just a few years ago, light food was also regarded as a synonym for the middle class and petty bourgeoisie, and it was also questioned because of the embarrassing experience of eating grass. Since 2019, with the rise of generation Z, especially the outbreak of catering industry, consumers have a deeper understanding and tolerance of the emerging catering mode, especially the alternative form of traditional dinner. The light food brand and the capital behind it saw the business opportunities created by the huge demand and low brand degree and low penetration rate, so the industry situation is now in full bloom.
What’s the difference between today’s light food and a few years ago? In the face of well-informed and increasingly picky consumers, how should light food brands firmly lock in the public’s consumption enthusiasm? What can we learn from the successful operation of overseas light food brands?
From afternoon tea to Kanto cooking,
Popular for three hundred years, light food charm has not been reduced
The history of light food can be traced back to Europe in the 17th century. The earliest afternoon tea originated from the British aristocracy, a cup of strong tea, with a few snacks, enough to support the stomach to a later dinner time. After the afternoon tea culture spread to France, the romantic and lazy French simplified it directly: cut the bread into slices, brush it with jam, add some bacon, eggs and other ingredients, and this kind of food similar to sandwich becomes the rudiment of light food. After it was introduced into the United States, casual Americans, on the basis of sandwiches, included convenient hamburgers, fried chicken nuggets, egg tarts and other snacks in the light food list.
 
Image source: www.npr.org
Later, light eating spread to Japan. Local people then regard the daily snacks, such as Guandong cooking and rice balls, which are simple to make and easy to wrap, as light food.
In recent years, with the rising tide of national fitness and consumption upgrading, Chinese people began to think about the deep meaning of “people are like food”, and began to actively accept the concept of “light food” introduced from Europe and America.
In the white paper on light food consumption behavior of Chinese people in 2020 issued by China Nutrition Society, light food is given such an official expression——
Light food is usually characterized by small amount of food, less oil, salt and sugar, and higher dietary fiber. It is suggested that the energy of a meal should be between 20% and 30% of the daily energy requirement. In the food composition, the staple food often includes coarse cereals, cereals and potatoes, with a mix of coarse and fine; there are a variety of vegetables and fruits; animal food is mainly poultry and aquatic products; other foods are mainly milk, beans, nuts and eggs. In general, the food should be cooked, steamed and stewed in a simple way.
 
Image source: www.haier.com
In fact, the evolution and popularization of light food in China is the result of the conflict and compromise of various dietary concepts. The most intuitive performance is that many people often confuse light food with substitute food. In fact, there are obvious differences between the two in terms of product form and food scene. Compared with the diversified forms of substitute food products and the scenes of eating anytime and anywhere, light food mostly appears in the form of fruits and vegetables + staple food (coarse grain rice or low-fat meat), and the main feeding scenes occur in the period of three meals a day.
Today, light food is not only a fashion label, but also a way of life. When the city people advocate the simple and natural life concept, and meet the characteristics of light food and Western style cooking methods and diversified food selection, they will stimulate the public’s continuous consumption enthusiasm. On August 8, 2020, meituan takeout released the big data report on light food consumption, which fully outlines the current situation of domestic light food consumption. The post-90s lead the “new food fashion” of light food; women account for more than 70% of light food lovers; southern people’s relatively light diet preference brings greater acceptance of light food. In terms of the types of online light food orders, low calorie (56%) is the most attractive label. In other words, nearly 60% of consumers eat light food to lose weight and exercise control.
 
Photo source: meituan
According to the data of hungry, among the 10 most popular light salad packages in 2019, the one with the highest calorie is 560 kcal, which is less than one third of the daily energy required by white-collar women. Each light food meal contains an average of 10 kinds of food materials, covering staple food, meat, eggs, beans, vegetables, fruits and other categories, and the protein content of each light food meal can meet 60% of the daily protein requirement, which is fully in line with the principle of food diversity in the dietary guidelines for Chinese residents (2016).
How big is China’s light food market?  
According to the big data report on light food consumption released by meituan takeout in August 2019, the scale of China’s light food industry is expected to exceed 100 billion yuan in three years and gradually account for about 10% of the total catering revenue in five years.
In 2019, the number of searches for “light food”, “fat reducing meal”, “weight reducing meal” and “healthy meal” by Chinese people on meituan app increased significantly year-on-year, among which the number of searches for light food increased by 235.8%. Not only that, many healthy light food stores also took advantage of the trend, and the number of meituan takeout light food merchants increased by 119.8% year on year in 2017.
 
at present, the light food market has formed different forms, such as “light food + coffee”, “light food + tea”, “light food + fresh juice”, and salad shop.
 
In the early stage of light food development, stimulated by the demand of fitness and weight loss, vegetable salad became the most important product type. Such as “eating grass” and bad taste, become the first impression of many people for light food. The simple pursuit of low calorie, no meat, and ignore the taste, eventually make light food deviate from the track of scientific diet.
Today, consumers’ cognition of healthy diet is becoming more and more mature and rational. Light food has also changed its monotonous “raw and cold” face, focusing on the diversification of food materials, high protein and high satiety Especially after the entry of traditional catering enterprises, the “lightweight” transformation of traditional dinner makes light food have both “connotation” and “temperature”, and still maintain high appearance value and full of fashion sense.
From slim to light hearted,
How can light food make a long-term business?
If the establishment of heyjuice in 2013 is regarded as the start sign of the domestic light food market, light food has experienced a brilliant peak – depression and silence – ups and downs in just eight years.
 
In 2014, the concept of light food began to spread rapidly in China, attracting the attention of KOL and entertainment stars. In the next two years, the light food industry, with salad as its main product feature, ushered in the first wave of entrepreneurship, and a large number of entrepreneurs emerged online and offline. Miyou salad, kaikaisha, sweetheart rock and other salad chain brands were founded at this time.
In 2015, there were less than 50 salad shops in Shanghai. By the end of 2016, the number has soared to three or four hundred.
From 2014 to 2017, the market expansion is fierce. Light food market not only attracts a large number of entrepreneurs, but also ignites the passion of capital. In 2018, after the reshuffle of the industry, light food ushered in a brief silence, and the market returned to rationality while being controversial. In 2019, with the rise of the catering industry, the light food market will rejuvenate with the arrival of the “light food 2.0 era”. According to the data of hungry, in 2019, the consumption of light salad in China will increase by 63%, the order volume will increase by 61%, and the number of consumers will increase by 39%. From the perspective of the number of consumers, the healthy light food represented by salad gradually presents a trend of popularization.
 
According to the data from the enterprise survey, there are 13000 light food related enterprises in China. From 2017 to 2020, the number of registered enterprises increased significantly, accounting for 88% of the total.
Since 2019, the new light food industry has shown two obvious trends:
1. With the support of capital, new brands are rising again, breaking the circle quickly, leading the light food consumption from the fitness, white-collar, fashion and other sectors. In May and July 2020, super deer team and Dongchi have successively obtained tens of millions of level financing, becoming the representative brands of a new round of light food new forces.
2. The types of light food players are increasingly diversified. It includes traditional chain restaurants such as KFC, McDonald’s and Yoshinoya, sports and fitness brands represented by keep, and Internet catering brands represented by lucky. The diversification of brand background injects fresh vitality into the light food market. From improving the taste of products to publicizing the concept of “light” life, designing more personalized food scenes, more players entered the game, accelerating the cross circle communication of light food consumption habits, and strongly promoting the mass consumption.
 
The hundred billion market supported by ten thousand enterprises is not too much to describe by red sea. From the perspective of food materials and forms, there is little difference among different brands of light food. Except for a few brands that rely on intensive and seamless marketing to establish their popularity and reputation, the vast majority of light food enterprises are still striving for cost control and financing ability. How to rely on the unique product positioning to form re purchase and brand loyalty is a question that must be answered to make light food a long-term business.
Among the mainstream light food brands with high recognition, the fitness meal with fitness circle as the “core position” and the low calorie meal with light weight group as the main group are the two most important positioning. They will also pay attention to the scientific collocation of food materials, reach consumers through various new retail channels, and establish private domain traffic with the help of social media. What are the actual operation modes under different positioning? Which is more likely to last? Let’s take two light food brands that won the favor of capital last year — Super deer team and Dongchi as examples to analyze.
1. Super deer team
Super deer team was founded in April 2017. Relying on the founder’s years of accumulation in the field of fitness, we choose fitness meals as our main business direction. By June 2020, there will be more than 400 stores nationwide with a market value of more than 1 billion yuan.
 
Photo source: beiguo.com
In the face of serious homogenization and unscientific formula of light food, super deer team has made every effort to improve the research on products and efficacy, hired top international nutrition tutors full-time, and jointly researched and developed with chefs from Japan, France and Italy. Through the proportion of ingredients, the consumption of ingredients and Kaluli are controlled within the scope of reducing fat. Each product package will be accurately labeled with nutrients, reflecting the full degree of professionalism. Today, super deer team has developed more than 100 kinds of light food products, including light cut fruit and vegetable juice, muscle enhancing bowl, super cold noodles, fat reducing shaping series, shaping salad series and low GI spinach roll series.
Although born in the fitness circle, the super deer team has not limited its business to this circle. The super deer team takes the fitness crowd as the seed user, and affects a larger 500 million new liveliness groups through them. Mu Zilong, the founder of the company, has repeatedly said that super power focuses on fitness meals, but serves people who want to be healthy and slim. In the process of constantly breaking the circle, the super deer team has formed a four level business model with the core of store hall food and takeout, the extension of which is the group meal ordered by fitness venues, and the combination of height, age and weight to customize the exclusive package and diet scheme for users.
 
The diversified business channel structure has brought vitality to the super deer team. Not long ago, they also tried to launch take away business in hundreds of chain stores, such as enzyme fruit and vegetable juice, ready to eat chicken breast, etc., to outline a richer eating scene for light meals.
2. Eat Dong
Compared with the super deer team with strong fitness temperament, Dongchi, which was also founded in 2017, moves the hearts of light eaters with pure delicacy. Dongchi is advertised as a “subscription weight management brand”, which is characterized by the “dinner style” of snacks. Dongchi uses the online subscription mode to refrigerate and bag the prepared food, and deliver it to the home through the cold chain. Users can eat it after heating it in the microwave oven or water. Today, Dongchi has developed more than 100 kinds of light meals, including three-day trial meal, 21 day commitment meal and 21 day light meal. Twice a week, the average meal cost is close to the level of normal temperature food.
 
Photo source: Dongchi
Compared with other catering brands, Dongchi pays more attention to food taste, and is known as “Oriental Michelin in fat reducing meal”. In terms of product form, it covers a variety of Chinese dishes, including rice, ramen, meat rolls, soup, folk snacks and so on. In the formula, do not deliberately avoid oil, salt, sugar and seasoning, color, flavor and shape, so that light food, card control is no longer difficult to adhere to.
In addition to taste, personalized subscription system is another feature that distinguishes Dongchi from other light food brands. In order to realize the real personalization, Dongchi establishes a series of supporting services. When consumers buy a set meal, they need to add a nutritionist on wechat and fill in a questionnaire to do basic physical assessment; for their 21 day meal, Dongchi will promise weight loss effect according to the assessment results, and users will pay 30% of the money if they punch in every day. Such “self strict” service enables Dongchi to gain consumers’ trust quickly.
At present, Dongchi has more than 100000 users, and more than 20% of them subscribe for more than 10 weeks.
 
Compared with most light food brands, the success of super deer team and Dongchi may be difficult to replicate. The rich business practice of the founding team, the in-depth study of food culture and nutrition science, and the accurate understanding and application of new retail and user operation strategies all make them different from each other at the beginning. However, foodaily believes that: to attract the full help of the capital side, not only depends on the charm of the founding team itself, but also on the feasibility of the business model, self iteration and large-scale replication. For consumers, the key to building brand loyalty is not the price, but the good experience (delicious, humanized service, positive impact on the concept of life) brought by consumption, as well as the final slimming effect. The super deer team and Dongchi have undoubtedly achieved this.
How do overseas brands play light food?
Europe and the United States are the birthplace of light food, where the light food brand in the business strategy is different from the domestic, how do they impress increasingly picky consumers? What experiences can domestic light food brands learn from them?
1. Sweetgreen, an American salad chain
In March last year, fast company, a well-known American business magazine, released the top 50 list of the world’s best innovative companies in 2020. After 2019, sweetgreen is once again in the top 20.
Since its establishment 13 years ago, sweetgreen has opened nearly 100 restaurants in eight states in the United States, with a cumulative financing of nearly US $500 million, and now its valuation has reached US $1.6 billion. In the early days of China, sweetgreen was the model of light food start-ups. From product form to store decoration, all reveal the style of this “foreign master”.
 
Photo source: School of explosives in granary
Sweetgreen was founded in 2007. It’s just when the American people reflect on the disadvantages of traditional high calorie fast food, and a new trend of healthy diet is formed. Deeply troubled by junk food, the founding team is determined to become an explorer of the transformation of American diet. After several attempts, we finally decided to take vegetable salad as the main product, and take fresh, organic and natural as the basic product.
Sweetgreen continuously conveys the brand image of kindness, charm, simplicity and nature. Driven by it, salad is firmly bound with the concepts of “green” and “organic”. Consumers believe that what they buy is not just a salad, but a healthy lifestyle. On instagram, the most famous social media in the United States, “sweetgreen” has been a hot topic for a long time. It can be said that sweetgreen has contributed to the popularity of salad in Europe, America and even the world.
After summing up all kinds of media reports, foodaily summed up sweetgreen’s business secrets into four points: the professionalism and innovation of product development, building a new paradigm of community life, ultimate user experience and supply chain management and control. Through well-designed stores, inspirational brand stories and diversified interaction with consumers, sweetgreen has established a strong brand influence and product premium.
 
Here we would like to mention sweetgreen’s careful cultivation of light food consumption concept. Because in the United States at that time, all kinds of dietary concepts came in droves to fill the gap left by the retreat of traditional high calorie diet. How to quickly occupy the minds of consumers often determines how high the ceiling of a certain track will be.
In product development, sweetgreen advocates localized production. On the small blackboard at the entrance of many stores, chalk will be written: “red onion, dagele farm, New York; Organic Spinach, fresh field farm, California…” Nowadays, sweetgreen has established cooperation with more than 2000 small and medium-sized farmers and ranchers in the United States. Every day, the food supply of each store comes from 200-300 different suppliers. Such a decentralized supply system is not only a great test for quality and safety control, but also has little advantage in cost control. However, high cost and high risk result in high trust and word of mouth.
In the store, sweetgreen makes all the visible items sustainable. Not only are all the tableware made of 100% degradable materials, the lamps are high-efficiency energy-saving lamps, but the energy used in the store is also from wind energy.
Outside the store, sweetgreen uses education and activities to strengthen the public impression. Since 2010, sweetgreen has been working with some high schools in Washington, D.C., to teach healthy eating and sustainable development courses. In May every year, sweetgreen carries out green energy publicity activities, uses degradable products at its own sweetlife Music Festival, and presents its own healthy organic salad.
 
Image source: mms.businesswire.com
At the end of February this year, sweetgreen announced that the company’s catering business will be completely carbon neutral in 2027, on the basis of 30% lower carbon emission of all menus than that of ordinary American food. As we all know, the concept of sustainability in the United States has long been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, and sustainable measures have a huge impact on the social image of enterprises and brands. As a leading light food brand, sweetgreen’s move will once again strengthen the brand positioning of “responsible light life”.
2. South stock Tokyo, Japan
Founded in 1999, soup stock Tokyo is the most famous soup chain brand in Japan, with more than 80 branches in Japan.
 
Source: South stock Tokyo
The daughter of Tang Chu founder yuan shanzhengdao suffers from food allergy. In order to make her daughter taste healthy and high-quality food, yuan shanzhengdao breaks the traditional fast food business model, focuses on the “new era office women” group, and establishes a restaurant with special soup as the main product. From the store location, decoration to food collocation are perfect to meet the needs of women.
The quality of soup storage is strictly controlled. Since its establishment, it has been adhering to “safety”, “peace of mind” and “nature”. All soup products do not add any chemical seasonings and preservatives. Through different cooking methods, fully restore the original flavor of food. In order to ensure the freshness of the food, the soup store will go to the place of origin to conduct in-depth research on the soil quality, harvest, and even farmers. Tang Chu will also launch season limited products in different seasons to deliver the “most delicious” of each season to consumers as scheduled.
Tang Chu updates the menu every week. About 200 products have been launched in more than 20 years. In the hot summer, there are as many as 30 kinds of curry soup.
 
Source: South stock Tokyo
Continuous innovation and pursuit of high quality have broken the traditional impression of clear soup in people’s hearts, and soup has become a new staple food. The idea of “a small bowl can be eaten with rich ingredients” and “the whole bowl of soup is the essence from a to Z” is the light food concept that leads the trend of healthy soup in Japan, and becomes a new dietary pattern among young people.
Compared with other Japanese Light food brands, or catering brands, the most impressive thing about tangchu is its strong artistic atmosphere. This is entirely due to the founder’s artistic accomplishment. In addition to soup stock Tokyo, smile group, founded by Mr. Yuanshan, also owns a number of FMCG brands, such as second-hand consignment store pass the baton, family restaurant 100 spoons and tie brand giraffe tie. He is well-known in the commercial field and an artist who has held exhibitions in Japan and abroad. Under his simple and modest appearance, there is a warm and complex heart.
Tang Chu’s design concept combines a lot of ideas and creativity of Yuanshan. First of all, in terms of site selection, Tang Chu mostly drives in large shopping centers near railway stations and office buildings. Secondly, in order to get rid of the traditional impression that soup is “the old man’s favorite” and “old-fashioned”, from the color collocation of food materials, the selection of tableware, to the store design, the “harmony” culture and the simple and small fresh style are skillfully integrated, and the colorful and attractive soup is highlighted through the simple log style and black-and-white tone. In addition, Tang Chu often cooperates with artists to launch limited soup bowls and tableware, which consumers can obtain by means of points or purchase, combining art and food incisively and vividly. In order to broaden the market, meet the needs of more people and various new consumption patterns, tangchu is also gradually expanding online subscription, take out and other patterns in recent years, so that the products can reach more consumers.
 
Source: South stock Tokyo
Accurate positioning, fancy menu, cultural taste of the shop and tableware design, these constitute the success of soup storage. Light food is not only vegetable salad, high protein and low calorie, but also the reconstruction and inheritance of traditional diet. A bowl of soup has its own commercial value.
Summary
Light food is the product of conforming to the trend of the times. It is the ultimate goal of light food industry to provide people with healthy, fast and good food experience. The recovery of light food depends not only on competitive products and mature and stable business model, but also on younger marketing methods, breaking the circle layer by layer and interacting with consumers without gap, so as to quickly complete the mental implantation and solidification of the brand.
As more light food demand is mined and released, more brands will enter the market in the future. Whether it is to sort out the outstanding domestic light food cutting-edge, or insight into the management characteristics of overseas light food brands, we hope to give light food houlang some inspiration and reference.
China’s light food industry has gone through eight years. Although there are twists and turns in the middle, but driven by the huge demand, it is finally getting better and better, showing the charming commercial charm.
Dongfenghaodang, promoting the 100 billion light food market, is light fast forward.
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