China’s foodservice industry ends 2021 showing signs of recovery after a tumultuous two-year period full of uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 and stringent lockdown measures throughout the country, according to The NPD Group

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SHANGHAI , February 15, 2022 (press release) –

Western-style quick service restaurants outperformed Chinese-style counterparts in 2021

According to The NPD Group, China’s foodservice industry ended 2021 showing signs of recovery after a tumultuous two-year period full of uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 and stringent lockdown measures throughout the country.

Thanks to vaccination rollouts and easing restrictions across the country, China reported a recovery in the first half of the year across the 22 Chinese cities tracked by NPD for the foodservice industry.

There was growth for both foot traffic and spend over the first two quarters of 2021 when compared to the same time periods in 2019 and 2020. However, regional outbreaks throughout the second half of last year caused a downturn in year-end results for foot traffic and spend, with each declining by a modest 2% versus 2019. This was a marked improvement over 2020 revenue, which saw foot traffic and spend declines of 17% and 16%, respectively over 2019.

Chinese style restaurants, including Chinese full-service restaurants (FSR) and Chinese quick-service restaurants (QSR), reported strong growth in the first half of 2021 when compared to 2019, which was driven by small chains and independent stores. However, due to regional outbreaks throughout the country in the second half of last year, both Chinese FSR and QSR experienced declines in the second half, with the highest losses occurring in the fourth quarter.

Western QSR’s (WQSR) in China, led by large global chains such as McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, and Subway, fared better thanks to their ability to expand their already high capacity for off-premises volumes, making them more resilient when compared to the country’s regional chains. Though some WQSR chains saw sales decline when compared to 2019, overall WQSR increased 3% versus 2019, and 17% versus 2020.

“Diverse menu options combined with innovative localized offerings helped WQSR succeed beyond expectations in China,” said Gimantha Jayasinghe, Senior Vice President of APAC Foodservice at The NPD Group. “While Chinese FSR and QSR chains did not see positive sales in 2021, their losses were not extreme, and we can expect a return to positive growth as the impact of the pandemic continues to subside throughout the country.”

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