Chinese fast food firms challenging McDonald's

( Agencies ) Updated: 2013-10-29 11:28:07

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As trust of domestic brands grows, diners are being increasingly drawn to local dishes, perceived as healthier due to a wider variety of ingredients, while there is mounting interest in traditional Chinese food and dining culture.

Last year a documentary called "A Bite of China" aired on local television drawing more than 100 million viewers, making it the most successful documentary in China since the 1990s.

Chinese heritage has become a key selling point.

Kung Fu Catering, which sports an emblem of martial artist Bruce Lee, underscores its local credentials by playing up the natural ingredients for its Chinese-style food against backgrounds of Chinese mountains, wispy clouds and bamboo.

Others such as Country Style Cooking, CNHLS and Gll Wonton, owned by Shanghai Shihao Catering, all offer fast food with a Chinese flavor. Though some way behind Yum and McDonald's in terms of size, all are taking market share from the huge independent sector of single shops and stalls.

Local brands also perform strongly in regions away from the saturated east coast market, catering to local tastes in areas seen as the China's next drivers for growth.

"Country Style Cooking is really strong in western China, while Kung Fu Catering is from Shenzhen and does well with more rice-based Chinese set meals, which fit the trend towards less oily and healthier food," said James Roy, Shanghai-based senior analyst at China Market Research Group.

China's influential netizens also suggest the US firms are struggling to remain the flavor of the month. Chatter about the two brands on China's Twitter-like Weibo fell to an almost two-year low in September, according to analysis by Reuters.

As one microblogger wrote: "I won't choose anything but Chinese fast food. We've got crab meat dumplings to Hunan-style cooking, fragrant Xinjiang breads and lamb kebabs... What do brands like Pizza Hut and McDonald's possibly have to offer?"


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