Opinion / Huang Xiangyang

Funeral industry offers bereaved a sense of dignity

By Huang Xiangyang (China Daily) Updated: 2016-11-17 09:58

It seems that few sectors other than the funeral industry can enjoy such constant, stable and ever-expanding consumer demand, a primary driving force behind any business boom.

Around 10 million people die in China each year nowadays, as compared with 8 million in 2003. The number is expected to surge in coming years as the country enters an aging society.

There were more than 220 million senior people, aged at 60 or above, in the country by the end of 2015, or 16.1 percent of the total population, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The number of senior people is predicted to double by 2035, which means the market potential is immense for companies that provide such services as funerals, cremation, burial and memorials.

With about 5,000 undertakers and 1,500 cemeteries across the country in operation, the whole industry is now estimated to value 90 billion yuan, with an annual compound growth rate of around 15 percent.

Fu Shou Yuan Group, listed in Hong Kong in 2013, claims to be the largest service provider in the sector. It is also one of the most successful companies, with gross profit margin of up to 80 percent. Its profits reportedly come mostly from the cemeteries it operates across the country.

As the government opens the sector wider to private capital, I hope more such enterprises will emerge, with better services. Actually I feel indebted to those in the sector, who have helped greatly ease the misery I felt at my dad's departure. They let me realize that the loss of life, no matter great or ordinary, enjoys in-born dignity.

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