Growing appetites develop for healthy eating

By LI YINGXUE | China Daily | Updated: 2021-05-28 08:00
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A customer buys chocolate at a Bengtang store in Beijing. Photo provided to China Daily

New approach

Anna Lin Yip, marketing director at Moka Bros Group, a healthy eating restaurant chain in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, said customers used to want to know the number of calories in each dish before they ordered, but now they realize that what really matters is a healthy diet.

She said clients used to view dining at Moka Bros as a "special" part of their slimming regimen, but now they consider the experience contributes to enjoying "proper" meals. "It's more like saying 'I have time and money to invest in my health and myself'," she said.

Lin added that in recent years the proportion of customers at the group's restaurants has shifted to about 90 percent Chinese from around 60 percent of foreigners. More families are visiting its eateries.

Moka Bros is adding plant-based meat to menus, and oat milk is already a choice for its coffee options, Lin said-not just for vegan customers, but to provide an alternative for all its clientele.

Boohee, one of the most popular healthy food product brands in China, launched in 2008 as a website providing information about nutritional content.

Wang Cong, product director, said the site's users are mainly female white-collar workers age 18 to 35 living in first- and second-tier cities.

Customers' demands for healthy snacks and functional food have continued to rise in the past two years, with the pandemic accelerating this trend, she said.

"Customers buying snacks are nearly all younger than those buying functional food. The former are mostly looking for snack alternatives, which make them feel less guilty when eating, while there is more demand among the latter for the effect of the product they are buying," she said.

In 2018, Boohee launched a 21-day challenge meal set, and a year later it released a three-day meal set. Demand has been high for both. Each day's meals are packaged in a single bag and include sufficient nutrition, but they have 500 fewer kilocalories (a unit of energy equal to 1,000 calories) than a person's average daily consumption, Wang said.

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