Photo from Asian Ramblings
White collar workers in Shanghai have expressed increasing dissatisfaction with the lunch options offered at moderately-priced restaurants around the city.
A survey of 30,000 professionals in downtown Shanghai, conducted recently by the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, showed that about 56 percent of the respondents weren’t satisfied with what they munch for lunch.
Shanghai white collars on average spend almost 19 yuan ($2.80) for lunch, said the survey, and the majority said “bad tasting food and unsanitary restaurants” were their major complaints.
As the most expensive city in China, residents of Shanghai are hit the hardest by meal prices, but the return for their money may very well be less than that in other parts of the country due to the costs associated with metropolitan life. Yet despite being displeased with the restaurant options available, few white-collar employees being a lunch from home, citing their tight schedule as their reason for grabbing restaurant food on a daily basis.
So where do all these workers go when they have a chance to grab a bite? While some patronize restaurants serving more traditional Chinese dishes, a growing percentage are turning to Western-style fast food to satisfy their hunger.
As Alibaba says:
The Shanghai survey also showed that one third of the white collars in Pudong’s Lujiazui area prefer burgers, fried chicken and pizza because they are fast and convenient.
“I’ll eat hamburger or pizza when I am busy at work, even though they are not healthy, and usually cost much more than Chinese meals,” said Shanghai’s Jiang.
And Shanghai isn’t the only place where this trend holds true. Foreign food is gaining popularity across the nation, particularly among Chinese youth and city residents. While this is old news for the likes of Shanghai and Beijing (which by itself has more than 5,000 foreign-food restaurants), the trend has been radiating out from metropolitan centers to the rest of China at an amazing rate.
Not only are the number of foreign restaurants in China high, but so are the prices of the food they serve. Foreign food, even in fast-food form, remains significantly more expensive than its Chinese counterpart. This, however, doesn’t seem to stop many kids, urbanites, and (apparently) white-collar workers from pulling up a chair at the local McDonalds when hunger strikes.
ABC News writes:
Foreign food is fashionable, and rising urban incomes mean city slickers can afford it. “We have a saying,” says Mr. Xu. “You eat Chinese food for its flavor, and Western food for its style.”
Needless to say those KFC buckets are pretty stylish, but those who are just looking for an inexpensive meal can also turn to a different source for lunch. In order to provide reasonably priced lunch options to the masses, some local governments have begun ‘lunch projects’ (yes, like those in many public schools) to subsidize lunch costs for those employed by the area’s largest companies. One such program in Qingdao involves workers buying their lunches (at an average of 10 yuan, or $1.50) from ‘lunch vans’, which park outside of companies during their lunch breaks to dish out food to hungry employees. Lunch out of an ambiguous van- now that’s good eatin’.