China wants its restaurant and catering industry to achieve yearly average growth of 18 percent with a goal of 3.3 trillion yuan (about 478 billion U.S. dollars) in sales by 2013, according to guidelines released by the Commerce Ministry.
The guidelines, posted online and dated Jan. 22, state that China aims to have 100 restaurant groups in the next five years, with each generating more than 1 billion yuan in annual sales by 2013.
Other objectives for 2013 include generating 25 million jobs, building 800 staple food processing and distribution centers and opening 160,000 chain breakfast outlets.
Between 1991 and 2007, industry sales rose 22.3 percent annually on average. The growth rate was 7.2 percentage points higher than that of total retail sales.
The industry so far has employed nearly 20 million people, with another 2 million added each year. But nearly 90 percent of food businesses are small or medium-sized, with the biggest 100 generating only 8.5 percent of total sales.
Under the plan, vegetable production is to be based in the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River including Guizhou, Sichuan, Chongqing, Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi.
Freshwater aquatic products will be concentrated in the middle and lower Yangtze River valley, mainly Hubei, Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shanghai.
Livestock breeding will be based in the Yellow River Valley, especially Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan and Shandong while poultry production will be based in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan and Fujian.
Raw materials for Muslim food will mainly come from northwestern Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and Xinjiang.
The Commerce Ministry has told local branches to team up with finance, taxation, industrial, commerce and quality inspection departments to map out policies to encourage the restaurant industry to hire the unemployed and upgrade technology.
Food outlets serving the general public, rather than offering luxury cuisine, were likely to see their power and water charges cut, said the guidelines.
The guidelines identified catering as a driver of consumption, since it could support industries such as farming, livestock breeding, food processing, construction, manufacturing and vocational training.
(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2009)