China Food

Who is hyping prefabricated dishes?

“ 
food has more than commercial value.
 ”

Text: Bai Lu

Source: jingzheyanjiusuo Research Institute

 
As the Spring Festival approaches, prefabricated dishes once again enter the menu of mass New Year’s Eve dinner from the small dining table, and this year’s Prefabricated dishes are particularly hot.
On the A-share market, Guolian aquatic products, Tongqing building, Quanjude and other prefabricated vegetable concept stocks all ushered in the daily limit. At the same time, Lu Zhengyao was also said to be hatching the prefabricated vegetable project “tip of the tongue workshop” with great fanfare, and threatened to open 3000 stores a year. Some organizations even predict that China’s Prefabricated vegetable industry is expected to become the next trillion catering market in the next 3-5 years.
With the consciousness of “food is the most important thing for the people” and the curiosity of prefabricated dishes, Jingzhe Research Institute tries to explore what prefabricated dishes can bring to the catering industry when the offline catering industry is frequently hit by the epidemic?
Prefabricated dishes ignite the cold winter of catering
Prefabricated dishes are nothing new. Many Shanghai women have always been in the habit of hoarding prefabricated dishes for the new year, but the persistence of the epidemic has made people pay attention to this potential new track. During the epidemic, the offline catering industry was seriously affected, and a number of catering enterprises began to launch prefabricated vegetable products in an attempt to save themselves. With consumers beginning to reduce dining out and the policy of encouraging local New Year celebrations in many parts of the country, the demand of the prefabricated vegetable market has ushered in a big outbreak in the past year.
Lin Zhenghuan, the brand leader of Dingding lazy food, told the Jingzhe research institute that the epidemic has led to more demand for people to eat at home, which is one of the external causes of the outbreak of demand for prefabricated food. From the internal perspective of the industry, the development of industrial chains such as product supply and cold chain logistics in the upstream of the prefabricated vegetable industry has also developed to a certain level. The basic conditions of the whole industry have been met, and there is only one opportunity for demand explosion to open the market.
Whether as a way of self-help for catering enterprises, or as a breakthrough for the catering industry at present. The popularity of the prefabricated vegetable track has attracted a group of players of all kinds. Among them, Haidilao has launched the “dinner” series, Xibei has launched Jia Guolong’s Kung Fu dishes, and players in retail channels such as box horse fresh food, daily excellent fresh food and Ding Dong buy vegetables are also accelerating the layout of their own prefabricated vegetable products.
The capital market is also active. Enterprise survey data show that from 2020 to 2021, there were 23 financing events in the prefabricated vegetable track, and Wei Zhixiang, the leader of the semi-finished product industry, successfully landed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in April 2021. With the help of the market and capital, the prefabricated vegetable seems to have become a new outlet in the catering industry.
Jia Guolong, chairman of Xibei youmian village, once said in an interview with the economic observer, “catering people have always felt that they are craftsmen, but in fact, catering has entered the era of science and technology from the era of technology, which must be the future trend of the catering industry.” In the speech, the optimistic attitude towards the future prefabricated vegetable market is undoubtedly revealed.
 
Prefabricated dishes: Catering cost reduction and efficiency enhancement weapon
Jia Guolong’s optimism is not unreasonable. In the traditional catering industry, the business model with the kitchen as the core has long had the problems of low standardization and difficult scale. In addition to the catering categories that do not need a chef, such as hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot, the business conditions of most catering stores are closely related to the skills of the kitchen chef, and the prefabricated dishes just have the ability to change this situation.
In the traditional catering business model, when the dishes are cut and matched in advance, it takes at least more than ten minutes from the customer’s order to the dishes on the table, while the prefabricated dishes only need to be heated for a few minutes. Therefore, in terms of serving speed, prefabricated dishes are far better than on-site frying. And reducing the production time of dishes will also help to improve the turnover rate and improve the overall revenue of the store.
In addition, the use of prefabricated dishes will also help catering stores further reduce personnel salaries and other operating costs.
After consulting the recruitment information related to chefs on the recruitment website, Jingzhe Research Institute found that the salary of chefs in first tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai is usually between 6000-8000 yuan, and the salary of experienced chefs is more than 10000 yuan. Because the prefabricated dishes only need secondary heating, the requirements for post skills and professional experience are not high, so there is no need for a professional chef to complete the production of meals. The more obvious advantage is that cutting down the operating costs of the back kitchen can save a lot of money for catering enterprises.
Under the catering business model with prefabricated dishes as the core, the traditional catering industry has a lower cost burden and a higher sales rate. It is not impossible to impact the IPO on a large scale in a short time according to the brand playing method of online Red “explosive products”.
In fact, many chain catering enterprises have begun to widely use prefabricated dishes for the purpose of reducing costs and increasing efficiency, which has spawned a number of upstream supply chain star enterprises in the b-end market.
In September 2021, Qianwei central kitchen, which provided supplies for pizza hut, KFC, Haidilao and other well-known catering brands, landed in a shares, and gained a 40% rise on the opening day as “the first share in the catering supply chain”. This has also become an important event to attract capital to continue to pay attention to the prefabricated vegetable track.
 
Category barriers of C-end consumers
Although prefabricated dishes have almost become a panacea to save the catering industry in the b-end market, there are still many challenges in the C-end market.
When the Jingzhe Research Institute learned about the consumption of young people’s Prefabricated dishes, many respondents gave similar replies: “what prefabricated dishes? Do you mean takeout packages?” This may also reflect that while the prefabricated dishes ushered in the market explosion, there is still a lack of cognition and even the stereotype of “unclean and unsanitary” in the hearts of most C-end young groups.
Previously, media reported that 70% of takeout came from 5 yuan cooking bags. After simple processing, catering businesses sold the food packages purchased at a low price to diners at the price of 20-30 yuan each, which aroused the disgust of consumers.
Compared with the cooking bag, the ingredients and food safety standards adopted by the prefabricated dishes are more stringent, but on the surface, the difference between the prefabricated dishes and the cooking bag is not obvious. Therefore, how to make consumers accept the essentially “not too bad” prefabricated dishes while having a negative impression on the “cooking package” is the key problem to be solved by many participating enterprises.
In addition, the most valuable taste standardization advantage of prefabricated dishes for b-end enterprises is the most unacceptable problem in the eyes of C-end diners.
In the field of Chinese food, in addition to paying attention to color, flavor, Italy and shape, the general public highly praises the concept of “pot Qi”. In the view of many people, the mass production of prefabricated dishes after secondary heating obviously can not restore the “pot spirit” of fried dishes, so it is difficult to agree with the taste and taste of prefabricated dishes.
Moreover, Chinese food culture is broad and profound. There are different taste preferences all over the country. Just the dispute between sweet and salty can divide two different markets. In the segmented market with local tastes as the standard, mass-produced prefabricated dishes also need more sophisticated and diversified product research and development. At present, prefabricated vegetable enterprises have not kept up with the requirements of the market.
The e-commerce channel search of Jingzhe Research Institute found that the current common prefabricated dishes are mainly crayfish, pickled fish, lion head, pepper pig belly chicken, etc., which can be compatible with the dishes with different dietary tastes between the north and the south. Moreover, these dishes generally have low requirements for taste.
For example, treating fish dishes that emphasize the freshness of ingredients into sauerkraut fish is suspected of avoiding the freshness and taste of ingredients, and there is a seasonal supply of crayfish with heavier taste.
If prefabricated dishes want to completely dominate consumers’ tables, I’m afraid they still need to make new breakthroughs in products.
What on earth are you eating?
“You can’t be careless in everything, especially in diet.” In Suiyuan food list, Yuan Mei, a poet and gourmet in the Qing Dynasty, expressed the Chinese people’s attention to eating, which was enough to arouse people’s thinking: what are people eating when they consume prefabricated dishes?
Compared with the stir fried dishes in the restaurant, the prefabricated dishes have less taste and more convenience. However, compared with takeout and instant food, prefabricated dishes may not be convenient enough. According to a data released by a fresh retail platform, 54% of “post-95” consumers often buy food materials for cooking, and semi-finished prefabricated dishes have become their favorite.
This set of data seems to be used to tell a story with a little sadness but full of commercial value: the “migrant workers” busy with 996 during the day still can’t put down their requirements for food after they go home. What they “eat” is their desire for a happy life.
But behind the business story of prefabricated dishes, there is another possibility.
When all domestic dishes are replaced by mass-produced prefabricated dishes, not only Lanzhou ramen and Shaxian snacks have unified their taste, but the civilian food hidden in street shops has been forced to disappear due to large-scale commercial competition, and people’s taste has also been “monopolized” by mass-produced prefabricated dishes. What else can people eat then?
From a commercial perspective, the potential of prefabricated dishes is worth looking forward to. Like a sophisticated intelligent algorithm, it finds the greatest common divisor in everyone’s taste, and then realizes huge commercial benefits with mechanized efficiency and accuracy.
But food may not only have commercial value. In the “pot gas” that people think about, there is also the value and significance of life to people.
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