Diners in China (pic: China Business Daily)

Diners in China (pic: China Business Daily)

The strong comeback of China's dining industry this year is good news for the country's on-trade dpendent wine sector.

In a strong sign of recovery from the pandemic’s devastating impact, China’s dining industry is projected to hit a record-breaking year in 2023, with total revenues estimated to reach RMB 4.8 trillion (US$659 billion). This upward trajectory follows a challenging period marked by millions of restaurant closures and revenue declines, highlighting both the industry’s resilience and its ongoing path to renewal.

The year 2022 witnessed a notable setback for the dining sector as it grappled with the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenues from the country’s dining sector plunged 6.3% to RMB 4.4 trillion. The severity of the situation was underscored by the closure of an astonishing 1.01 million restaurants during the year, according to the annual white paper on the dining sector published by the country’s leading industry media Hong Can. The number accounted for about half of the total of 2.08 million eateries that were forced to close during the three-year pandemic.

However, the year 2023 is looking up. Revnues from the first quarter of the year already grew by 13.9% to RMB 1.21 trillion, paving the way for a full rebound to an unprecedented RMB 4.8 trillion.

One compelling factor bolstering this optimistic outlook is the return of wedding banquets and business dining, pivotal occasions that also significantly influence on-trade wine sales.

The economic scope of wedding-related dining is noteworthy, having generated approximately RMB 426.1 billion in 2022. This year, it is poised for an impressive expansion, scaling the heights of an estimated RMB 642 billion (US$89.3 billion), according to the white paper.

According to data released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, over 20 million couples registered for marriage during the pandemic. Among them, many couples did not hold formal wedding banquets due to the pandemic. However, wedding banquets remain an essential ceremony for Chinese people.

In a survey of the eligible age group for marriage, it found that 65.7% of the respondents stated that having a wedding banquet is a definite requirement for marriage, and the proportion leaning towards holding banquets also reached 22.6%.

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