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Ministry: breakfast to sharpen market appetite
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16:43, January 22, 2009

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The catering industry in China is urged to provide breakfast service to their neighborhood residents to boost consumption and create more job opportunities for laid-off workers, particularly in urban areas.

At the press conference held by the Ministry of Commerce on Jan. 21, the guilds of the catering industry announced a proposal calling on their members to take corporate social responsibility by launching and expanding chain operations offering safe, fast, easily accessible and economical breakfast to local consumers.

Di Jiankai, Director-General of the Department of Commercial Services Administration, Ministry of Commerce, disclosed at the conference that MOC and the Ministry of Finance have initiated two trial projects promoting breakfast service in major cities. Staple food processing and distribution centers would be built by 20 catering enterprises in 17 cities in different parts of the country. And well-structured breakfast service network will be in place in more than 280 cities around China within two or three years.

The contribution of the service to the economy and society is huge, Mr. Di stressed. As most of people working in this sector are laid-off workers in urban areas, a booming breakfast business can create many job opportunities for them.

He estimated that the retailing sales in the accommodation and catering sector would reach 1.54 trillion yuan in 2008, a year-on-year increase by 24.8 percent.

But in November, the growth of the sales dropped by more than 6 percent, reflecting the impact of the global financial crisis which is also biting China's economy.

According to statistics by China Cuisine Association, one of the guilds making the proposal, breakfast service brought 200 million yuan of retailing sales to its 7,800 members in 2008. The organization has promised to offer some 8,000 positions to graduates of higher education in half of a year.

Mr. Di recognized that the short supply of quality breakfast had long been a big problem in big cities in China. A survey shows that about half of residents in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing find it difficult to get breakfast service they need and 70 percent of those using the service are not satisfied with the service, he said.

The reasons for the problem, Mr. Di explained, mainly lie in the lack of policy support from local governments to the business which generates low profitability in return for providers' heavy investment on capital and efforts.

He urged local governments to give policy and fiscal support to encourage enterprises offering the service and companies in the catering industry to take their social responsibility to contribute on better livelihood for local people.

Xia Aidong, a senior manager of Beijing-based Judehuatian with scores of famous brands with more than a hundred years of history, believes that enterprises can benefit from the breakfast business which improves the reputation of their brands among consumers. "Taking the corporate responsibility helps a brand thriving as long as possible", he added.

Foreign giants like McDonald's and KFC are also providing breakfast to consumers in China. Xia said Chinese restaurants can provide more choices at lower prices to local consumers. But he recognized that they can learn something from their foreign competitors in terms of internal management.

By People's Daily Online

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