Will China Become the World’s Fattest Country?

In a recent article in the online magazine Death and Taxes, Matt Kiebus opens by playfully chiding the USA for the over-eating and under-exercising habits that have rightfully led to its reputation as the world’s most obese nation. The article then switches focus to a nation whose rapidly expanding infrastructure of trans-fat may someday allow it to overtake the US as the world’s fattest country:

It seems not a week goes by without some news outlet releasing a supposedly groundbreaking new study detailing how lazy and obese we are as a country. We get it — as a whole, we’re eating too much and forgetting to exercise all together. The image of a typical all-American now includes a Big Mac, fries and a double chin.

[...]China has been making a concerted effort to become one of the world’s leaders in finance, military and industry. Little do they realize they are also gearing up for battle on the scales as well. Not only are McDonald’s and KFC incredibly popular, both fast food chains also offer delivery services — aka the get fat quick plan.

The “get the fat quick plan” mentioned by Kiebus has also been covered in a Wall Street Journal business article. Yum! Brands (the world’s largest fast food conglomerate, owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and many others) and the McDonald’s Corporation have found a niche market in delivery, and are filling the same role that Chinese delivery does in the US:

When Americans are too busy or lazy to cook, they often place an order with their favorite Chinese restaurant. So who do people in China call when they want food delivered? Increasingly, McDonald’s and KFC.

[...]As the largest fast-food chain in China, KFC is relying on delivery to help broaden the reach of its brand even more. KFC is opening about 450 new restaurants in China per year, half of which Mr. Carucci says will offer delivery.

[...]Sun Yu, who works for a media company in Beijing, says he orders from McDonald’s or KFC two or three times per month because it’s “more convenient than going to the restaurant, especially in bad weather.”

[...]“You know, I can’t be bothered to walk even five minutes away, to the KFC near our office, and McDonald’s is a little farther,” says Ms. Hu, 40 [a Beijing based advertising agent].

A post from Newser provides some more statistics about delivery in developing fast food markets:

In China—where KFC is the country’s biggest fast-food chain—the company provides delivery at more than half of its 3,500 restaurants. McDonald’s delivery is available in 15 countries; of the 8,800 restaurants there, 1,500 will bring a burger to your door. At McDonald’s, “we’ve used the slogan, ‘If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you,’” says an exec at the fast food chain, which has seen double-digit growth in delivery sales every year in countries where it is offered.

For a view of two very different directions in which changing Chinese food trends are heading, see Fast Food Becomes King in China and Food Scandals a Boon for Organic Businesses, both via CDT.

December 14, 2011 12:22 PM
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Categories: Economy, Society