Home » Articles, Asia, Consumer Foodservice, Datagraphics » Major Opportunities in China—But Where?


January 11, 2013

Major Opportunities in China—But Where?

EMI_ChinaCities-v1.3

For many global foodservice operators, the question of expansion into China has moved far beyond “if” and focused instead on “where,” as operators look past the largest cities and try to determine which second- and third-tier markets hold the greatest opportunities. Euromonitor International’s new Cities data offers a glimpse into the metrics that can help answer this question, breaking down GDP, annual disposable income, population growth and other relevant data by major city in the world’s largest markets.

A closer look at China’s cities, in particular, highlights major potential opportunities in consumer foodservice. While Shanghai and Beijing have so far seen the majority of international expansion, for example, cities like Shenzhen, Dongguan and Xiamen all offer higher per-capita annual disposable incomes despite slightly smaller populations. It’s also important to note that China’s incredible size means even some of the country’s second- and third-tier cities have populations that rival entire countries in other world regions. Shanghai’s population is larger than that of Australia or Chile, and Beijing, Chongqing, Tianjin and Guangzhou all out-size Greece, Belgium, Hungary and Sweden.

Of course, population size doesn’t tell the whole story, and foodservice operators also need to go where the money is. In per-capita income terms, many Chinese cities also measure up to major foodservice markets: Ten Chinese cities, including Dongguan, Xiamen, Ningbo, Wenzhou and Suzhou, have higher per-capita disposable income figures than Brazil, which boasted US$150 billion (R$251 billion) in foodservice value in 2011. These figures illustrate the immense potential opportunities present in these markets, many of which are far from saturation in terms of global chained foodservice.

Other key metrics illustrate the full extent of the potential for future growth in these areas. Tianjin, for example, has among the lowest per capita annual disposable income among the richest Chinese cities, but it saw 18% real GDP growth in 2011, higher than Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Similarly, despite already boasting one of the highest current figures, Xiamen will see a 9% CAGR in per-capita disposable income over 2011-2016, among the highest in major Chinese cities. Finally, Shenzhen will see a 7% CAGR in households over the forecast period, adding over a million new potential consumers in this already thriving city.


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It is interesting to see the growth curve shift over the past few years, from port-driven economies, to consumer-driven economics.

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