Casual dining, which has been expanding across China since 2012, is being continuously promoted by new technologies, China Economic Net reported. In 2017, revenue of China’s catering industry reached 3.96 trillion yuan, 80 percent of which was contributed by casual dining.
A robot waitor in a restaurant in Haerbin, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province
The Internet, big data and cloud computing have played an important role in innovating the catering industry. According to statistics, China’s online food delivery market hit 204.6 billion yuan ($31.9 billion) in 2017, 23 percent more than the previous year.
Almost 300 million people have already used online services to order food, according to iiMedia Research, a global consulting agency.
Analysts have predicted that with the development of technology, it’s possible that some of the more tedious and repetitive aspects of the restaurant business may be taken over by robots. For instance, Chinese e-commerce giant JD has announced that its first smart restaurant will open to the public in August this year. All of the services at this pioneering restaurant will be carried out by robots.
Young people are also forcing the industry to innovate in order to meet more personalized and diverse demands. According to China’s major food delivery firm Meituan, 74 percent of orders are made by people aged between 20 and 35 years old.
The rapid expansion of the catering industry has driven the demand for young cooks. According to the Ministry of Education, the number of catering schools in China has increased from 85 in 2013 to 176 in 2018.