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Frugality campaign improves operation of eateries

By Zheng Jinran  (China Daily)

10:28, February 23, 2013

The campaign to reduce extravagance will spur upscale restaurants to eliminate waste, and refocus them on the mass-market, according to an expert.

"Some restaurants have seen revenues decline during the campaign, but it's also an opportunity to push them to improve their business structure," said Feng Enyuan, secretary-general of the China Cuisine Association.

Luxury dining and fine-wine sales have both seen a huge drop in business amid the nationwide frugality campaign, the Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday.

Prices for high-end liquor such as Feitian Moutai and Wuliangye dropped by 30 percent, according to a survey conducted by the ministry.

Upmarket restaurants in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, saw revenues fall by 35, 20 and 30 percent respectively, year-on-year in January.

"To expand consumption does not mean we will allow waste of resources," Shen Danyang, spokesman for the ministry, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

He said the anti-extravagance campaign will establish a "green and low-carbon pattern" to make consumption sustainable.

Feng agreed, saying that many restaurants have come up with ideas to avoid wasting of food.

For example, the Beijing Bianyifang Roast Duck Group gave customers a 10 percent discount if they ate all their food, while many more restaurants provided smaller portions and reminded customers to take their leftovers away.

Feng said restaurants need to carry out more research to gain a better understanding of the mass-market. Then, they can boost their services such as providing online ordering or by extending their industry chains.

"The mass market is huge for these high-end restaurants to explore," Feng said. "This will guide the catering service industry to develop in a healthy way."

Chen Yang, 26, from Jinan in Shandong province, was surprised to see that a large banqueting hall had been transformed into small compartments, with screens, on Feb 6.

"The hostess told me they had to change the arrangements because few large-scale annual dinners had been booked," she said, adding that she seldom dined in such restaurants previously, but went there after buying a discount package online.

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