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Measures to bolster catering sector

Policy to help industry facing various challenges as it recovers from epidemic

By XU WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-11 09:23
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To resolve the talent shortage in the sector, the latest policy document pledged to make more of an effort to boost the skills of industry professionals.

Local authorities must coordinate the use of funds allocated for industrial development, talent cultivation and vocational skills training to better hone the skills of catering practitioners, the document said, adding that universities and vocational colleges will be given greater support to offer majors related to catering management and culinary arts.

Cooperation between vocational education institutions and enterprises in the catering sector will be encouraged, with more vocational skills competitions set to be organized.

The development and application of artificial intelligence, big data and intelligent devices in the sector is another policy priority, with the government pledging to further the digital empowerment of the industry.

Authorities have also highlighted the need to develop more well-known catering brands and to encourage further exploration of traditional cooking skills, culinary culture and the growing popularity of famous dishes, snacks and restaurants.

The development of semi-prepared foods, which have sparked public concerns for their nutrition and safety, is also set to receive greater regulatory oversight, with the policy document pledging to come up with relevant standards as soon as possible and conduct continuous risk assessment and monitoring.

Zhao Jingqiao, an analyst in the catering sector from the National Academy of Economic Strategy, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the introduction of more national standards on semi-prepared foods will further bolster food quality.

China has more than 70,000 companies making food items that have undergone some preparation but are not fully cooked or ready to eat, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The curbing of food waste is also emphasized by policymakers in the document, with restaurants and online food delivery platforms required to offer more clear information on their meals and reminders for ordering appropriate amounts, encourage meal sharing and provide smaller portions.

To accelerate the international expansion of Chinese cuisine, the policy document highlighted the need to better help catering businesses explore overseas markets.

The nation will strengthen cooperation with countries and regions in inspection and quarantine procedures and support exports of catering ingredients and materials into international markets.

Another key step in ramping up the popularity of Chinese cuisine overseas is to work more with foreign entities in terms of vocational training. This will involve such moves as encouraging professional Chinese culinary schools to expand their international cooperation channels.

Yang, from the China Cuisine Association, said the expansion of Chinese catering businesses to global markets will require greater branding efforts and heightened steps to boost the cultural appeal of Chinese cuisine.

She highlighted the need to encourage more Chinese chefs to work abroad, saying that industry associations and chambers of commerce should guide catering enterprises to actively explore overseas markets.

It is also important to further explore the cultural elements of local specialties, enable more Chinese cooking techniques to be listed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritages and encourage catering businesses to strengthen international exchanges and cooperation, she added.

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