Light food becomes social network trend

Customers queue up at a light food restaurant in Beijing. (Photo/

China’s light food sector has witnessed mushrooming development in recent years, serving not only as an icon of a healthy lifestyle, but also a popular way of social networking for young Chinese people.

Euromonitor International, a market research company, indicated that China is currently the fastest-growing market for meal replacements, predicting a market value of 120 billion yuan ($18.5 billion) in 2022.

Meanwhile, according to a report released by the Chinese Nutrition Society, 94.9 percent of the people surveyed consumed light meals at least once a week, and 55.7 percent enjoyed light food two to four times a week, while the major consumer groups turned out to be ordinary employees and college students.

In order to be “slim enough for nice dresses during summer”, a young woman surnamed Lu, who works at a financial company in Beijing, frequently goes to several light meal restaurants with her colleagues.

“We often talked about which light food is the most delicious. For me, I like all kinds of low-calorie rice dishes, as well as multigrain rice meals with vegetables and meat dishes. I don’t have to worry about gaining extra weight,” said Lu.

Lu added, ”My friends also enjoy having light food, which not only helps them save time but also gives them adequate nutrition.”

Due to the upgrading of consumption and the improvement of public health awareness, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have been paying greater attention to health-related industries, while light food has gained increasing popularity among young people.

To better cater to customer demand, canteens in many Chinese universities such as Peking University, Tsinghua University, Sichuan University, Yangzhou University and Yunnan Normal University have also introduced new windows selling light meals.

Light food, with its low calories, pleasing appearance and healthy concepts, has made its presence felt among young people, Zhang Jie, founder and CEO of Huadan Angel Investment, explained, adding, ”It has now become normal for young people to take photos of light food or drinks and post them on their social network and chat with their friends on this topic.”

Zhang also noticed that a post related to light meals on social media will invariably invite many comments.

“Some talk about whether the light food is delicious or not, while others share their experiences. Light meals have been given a new social-networking dimension to some extent, which is one of the reasons why it appeals to young people,” said Zhang.