As Chinese economy develops and people’s pace of life continues to accelerate, increasing people choose to have meals outside, which promotes development of China’s fast food industry. CRI analyzes that China’s fast food industry have gained revenues exceeding CNY 800 billion in 2017, accounting for over 20% of the total revenue of China’s catering industry. In addition, the fast food industry has demonstrated a higher growth rate than the catering industry in recent years. The fast-growing number of netizens, especially the number of mobile network subscribers (exceeding 700 million people by the end of 2017), has contributed to continuously increasing people who order take-out food via mobile APPs, which facilitates demand for take-out meal boxes.
According to CRI, the consumer scale of the take-out food industry has kept a relatively rapid expanding tendency, Increasing from 80 million at the end of 2012 to about 300 million at the end of 2017. Although the growth rate of take-out consumers has tended to decelerate since 2017, this rate is still likely to rise again with take-out food platforms accelerating development in third-tier and fourth-tier cities as well as in rural areas in China.
CRI’s market research reveals that the consumption volume of take-out meal boxes has exceeded 10 billion units in China in 2017. In China, a take-out meal box is a kind of disposable tableware, which is a type of consumptive and cheap tableware just for single use. Take-out meal boxes can be made of paper, wood, plastics, metal, etc. They are primarily applied to packed take-out food. Despite being accepted by the society and widely used by people for convenience, environmental pollution may be caused once these take-out meal boxes are discarded. According to market research by CRI, PP (poly propylene) boxes are most widely used in present Chinese market, followed by paper boxes and degradable boxes. Since take-out food platforms do not provide merchants with take-out meal boxes, merchants need to purchase boxes on their own. According to CRI, disposable boxes are generally priced at CNY 0.3-1.5 per unit in China, among which degradable boxes are priced the highest, representing a relatively low market share.
CRI analyzes that low barriers to entry in China’s disposable meal box industry lead to a great number of manufacturers, a majority of whom are small enterprises. Some enterprises use hazardous materials such as medical waste as raw materials of disposable boxes in order to save costs, which has a negative impact on industry reputation. On November 2, 2017, China National Development and Reform Commission declared that it would cooperate with relevant authorities to adjust “ban on free plastic bags” and to formulate a series of implementation plans related to use of non-degradable plastic bags in the take-out food industry. It is estimated that with Chinese government issuing stricter policies in fields such as environmental protection and food safety, a part of unqualified disposable meal box manufacturers will close down, continuously improving the concentration rate of China’s take-out meal box manufacturing industry.
CRI predicts that China’s take-out food industry will continue to develop during 2018 and 2022 and the CAGR of the consumption volume of take-out meal boxes will reach at least 15%. For disposable meal box manufacturers, especially for degradable meal box manufacturers, plenty of opportunities can be found in Chinese market in the next few years.